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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Introducing… James McDermott

We’re kicking off our blog with a brand new feature, Introducing…, where we pick the brains of award-winning Norfolk-based playwright and performer James McDermott, who makes his Creative Arts East debut on Saturday 27th January at Ovington Village Hall, with his critically acclaimed comedy, Rubber Ring.

Rubber Ring is a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age comedy set in Sheringham, and based on McDermott’s own experiences as a working-class Morrissey-obsessed teenager exploring his own sexuality against the backdrop of rural Norfolk. McDermott describes it as “a play with a big heart full of big characters and big laughs”, and his script blends song lyrics, music and autobiographical tales of his teenage years, and promises to be a night out audiences won’t forget…

Sum up your show in 3 words:

‘Funniest! Show! Ever!’

What is your favourite spot in East Anglia?

‘On good days, the clifftop walk from Weybourne to Sheringham. On bad days, Norwich Train Station so I can escape to London.’

If you had one super power, what would it be?

‘The ability to read minds so I could really understand human psychology and then hopefully write better characters. And so I would know who fancies me back and then I wouldn’t waste time pursuing people who don’t.’

What was the first film you saw in the cinema?

‘I want to say it was a Francois Truffaut film but it wasn’t. It was Rugrats In Paris. Very different type of French cinema…’

And finally, give us one reason why people should come and see your show!

‘Because coming out to see a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age comedy about growing up in Norfolk is better than staying in watching repeats of Maigret on ITV Three whilst wolfing down a box of Brandy Snaps.’

 

Rubber Ring will be performed at Ovington Village Hall on Saturday 27th January at 7.30pm. The show is a ‘Pay What You Decide’ performance, giving audiences the opportunity to come, watch, and pay what they think their experience is worth after the show. McDermott will also be holding an informal post-show discussion. Capacity is limited so it is advisable to book in advance. To do so, please call 01953 885848 or click here for more information.

Rubber Ring has been selected as part of our rural touring programme, and will also tour to Sheringham Little Theatre on 5th May and Wymondham Central Hall on 12th May. For more information on upcoming events, please visit our website.