Keep Dancing! Norfolk’s Older Generation Learn to Belly Dance

Hopefully you’ve had chance to read our last blog post, which was all about our Big Sing event in March, celebrating the ‘Our Day Out’ participatory singing and dance workshops. Every three months, we work with different professional artists to deliver brilliant participatory arts sessions, specifically designed to engage Norfolk’s older generation in creativity and culture. The Big Sing event in March marked the end of our groups’ time with local singers Mary and Kim, but did signal the beginning of perhaps the most ambitious activity our groups have tried yet – belly dancing!

Our participants have taken part in their fair share of dance styles before, including tea dances and contemporary ballet with renowned company Rambert, but since April, our groups in Attleborough, Dereham and Thetford have been trying out a completely new style with the brilliant Henrietta from Zahara Belly Dance. Music and dance activities have been proven to have a huge impact on the wellbeing of older people, especially those living with dementia, which is why our sessions focus on engaging our participants in these activities. It’s fantastic that by working with Henrietta, Creative Arts East are able to offer our participants the chance to try something different.

 Henrietta said about the sessions:

I am really enjoying delivering a series of belly dance sessions for ‘Our Day Out’ in Dereham, Thetford and Attleborough. Everyone joins in as we shimmy and jingle wearing the brightly coloured hip scarves. There is lots of laughter and joy as we dance together. It is such a rewarding experience for me, bringing my passion for the dance to a new group of people and seeing them respond to the music and moves. Belly dance has the ability to transport people to a different place where we can feel the music and just dance together. I am so pleased to be involved in the project.”

Not only are the belly dancing sessions an excellent way for Norfolk’s older generation to remain active and mobile, and in the words of one of our budding belly dancer Sylvia from Attleborough, they’re also “a good laugh”! They can be tailored for any ability, undertaken seated or standing, and are fully inclusive to those with dementia and other long-term health conditions. The sessions take place twice a month in Attleborough, Dereham and Thetford, and we are also running music-making workshops twice a month with our Watton, North Walsham, and Wells-next-the-Sea groups. For full dates and details, visit our website here, or contact lea@creativeartseast.co.uk. We’re always looking for volunteers to help out and more participants to take part, so do get in touch!

The ‘Our Day Out’ project is funded by Spirit of 2012 Trust, with additional funding supplied by Breckland Council and North Norfolk District Council. For more information about Henrietta’s fantastic belly dancing sessions, visit her website here.

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