Short film reveals joy of dance for those living with dementia

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  • Date: January 25, 2023
  • Time: 4:30 pm
  • Location: Evans Theatre, Brandon

A new short film that celebrates creativity, joy, playfulness, community, and connection — for people living with dementia and their carers — will make its Brandon debut next week.

The film springs from a long-running research collaboration with Brandon University, and the free public showing will be followed by a dance demonstration and a discussion.

Dr. Rachel Herron is a BU researcher who recently completed a four-year research project with Dr. Mark Skinner at Trent University and Dr. Rachel Bar, Canada’s National Ballet School Director for Research. Their research explored how “Sharing Dance Older Adults,” a dance-based program for older adults developed by Canada’s National Ballet School and Baycrest, improved the social inclusion of people living with dementia and their carers.

“This project is about the power of creativity and collaboration to address health and social problems,” said Dr. Herron. “We were excited about the opportunities that Sharing Dance could offer people living with dementia, carers, and community organizations. One of the most valuable learnings from our research was the role that the program played in stigma reduction.”

The collaborative research project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and also produced a new book that is free to the public online. The book explores how the Sharing Dance program was developed as well as the ways the program enriched the lives of people with dementia, carers, and staff in active living centres and long-term care facilities involved in the research project. It is co-written with members of these groups and offers something to anyone interested in learning more about the creative teamwork and impact of Sharing Dance.

The new film, “Dancer Not Dementia,” from filmmaker Anthony Grani and presented by Canada’s National Ballet School, captures the extraordinary stories and experiences of dancers living with dementia and their carers. Viewers can witness the impact of dance through the eyes of residents and staff of Alexis Lodge Dementia Care Residence and Cedarhurst Dementia Care Home, as well as through experts in the health and arts spaces.

“Like every community we work with, when dancing with people living with dementia, they are dancers”, said Dr. Bar. “And we encourage them to express themselves as dancers. The film is an opportunity to show what can happen when instead of seeing people as their disease, we see them as dancers.”

No tickets are required for the free showing, which will take place at 4:30pm, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. The Evans Theatre is located in the George T. Richardson building on the Brandon University campus (access from the same foyer as the library) and is open to the public.

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time when the Alzheimer Society encourages everyone to learn more about dementia. Although many people are aware of dementia, people living with dementia continue to face discriminatory policies, practices, and attitudes in their day to day lives. For example, ageist and ablest attitudes toward people living with dementia can influence what opportunities are prioritized and invested in as well as how older adults see themselves and what activities make them feel safe.

Short film reveals joy of dance for those living with dementiaToo often, we focus on what someone with dementia can’t do—reimagine your perception of dementia and discover the vibrant communities challenging dementia-related stigma with every dance movement.


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