Dance Without Limits – Tuesdays 5pm, ages 5-15

Dance Without Limits is a free adapted dance program by the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC. Children and youth of all abilities are welcome, ages 5 to 15+.

I had fun facilitating the first Victoria class today, with a great group of participants, families, support workers and volunteers!

And there is room for more to join: if you know anyone who might be interested, please share this link: http://bccerebralpalsy.com/programs/dance-without-limits/. The classes are Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, from Feb. 9th-March 8th at Cook Street Village Activity Centre (parking lot entrance). To register, call 604-408-9484, or email admin@bccerebralpalsy.com.

p.s. Here is a short video from the program in Vancouver:

 

Autumn schedule

Upcoming sessions (Fall 2015):

Photo: two adults dancing facing each other looking down

Dance for Brain Health:
Weekly classes:
Mondays 2:30pm at Cedar Hill Recreation, starts Sept. 21st.
Workshop:
Sat. Oct. 17th, 1pm at Monterey Centre.

Dancing for Wellbeing:*Photo: four people in a circle smiling dancing, and two people facing each other arms in the air
-October session: Monday Oct. 19th, 7pm.
-Full-day workshop: Saturday Nov. 7th, 10am-4pm through Programs in Earth Literacies (scholarships available).

*As this autumn I am at full capacity with community programs, I am currently offering monthly Dancing for Wellbeing sessions, rather than weekly classes (to be added to an interest list about weekly classes in the New Year, please be in touch).

The days of summer are numbered

Greetings everyone!

My apologies for being so quiet online since the spring. Dance programs have been very busy and lovely with new locations across the region; however this has had a side effect: I have not had a chance to send newsletters, tweet, or post updates. And, I have missed being in touch with participants from dancing for wellbeing and dance for brain health sessions while classes paused for the summer.

Photo: ten people seated in a circle, each holding an arm of a sunshine prop with a pink circle centre.
Sharing laughter with residents experiencing memory loss, as we bounce a rubber chicken to a Beatles song.

Although I usually focus on updates that highlight a particular location, today my theme is numbers, which feels a bit odd. Yet numbers seem like a useful way to summarize the beautiful whirl of the past while, and to offer more context (/an alibi) for why I have been offline. As an example, during the past 7 days, I have danced with 132 participants, including 20 new people, at 13 locations. It’s an honour to connect and be creative with so many fun people.

In the past 6 months I have met 395 new participants at programs…. I find it quite tricky to keep track of so many people’s names – although at least there are some repeated names, such as on Saturday there were 4 people with the name Joyce across 3 locations! I started keeping tally of numbers of participants in 2012; in the past 3 years I have danced with around 1152 unique participants, at more than 50 locations.

Background is a map with roads; foreground has various location markers: circles and squares of different colours.
I use an online map to keep track of locations.

Over the past 5 workdays, I have bicycle commuted 80 kilometers. This is likely a record, as I do not usually go around to so many neighbourhoods in the same week. This week involved 10 different areas in Lekwungen and WSANEC homelands: Oaklands, Saanichton, Brentwood Bay x2, Burnside-Gorge, Gordon Head, Vic West, James Bay x3, Esquimalt, Swan Lake, Cadboro Bay, and tomorrow involves Sidney (…although I will bus both ways tomorrow). I am grateful that for autumn, it has been possible to set up my schedule so that sessions in the same neighbourhood are on the same day.

Recently, I am often out of the office from 10am-4:30pm with programs, and then I spend time in the office to prepare activities, playlists and props, and to follow up about logistics for programs (with ~20 organizations and workshops at 5 locations).

Photo: big rocks with tidepools, one person walking in the waterway, background: fog with silhouettes of trees.
Wandering in Long Beach tide pools

And, one of my favourite numbers from this summer: I spent 7 nights camping at Long Beach/ Tofino in Tla-o-qui-aht in early August. My family came together for it, from Gatineau/Ottawa, Nicaragua and Burnaby, and it was also where I met my delightful 4-month-old nephew for the first time.

I hope that summer has treated you and family as well as possible, and that we get to catch up and dance soon!

Graceful VIRCS dancers

During February and March, I had a wonderful time moving with a group of graceful dancers at the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Centre. We did many group improvisations together, as well as dancing in two’s; this group is amazing at moving as a collective!

From the poster for the six-week series: “Relaxing classes for the newcomers that will help you: Learn English in a fun and friendly setting, Make new friends, Stay healthy with light exercises, Relax and have fun.”

We took some photos (a few blurry) on March 24th, during the last session; participants wanted to dance with ribbons:

 

“Life is a dance whether we know it or not”

Image of bboy Luca 'Lazylegz' Patuelli dancing, wearing a hat, orange t-shirt and holding a crutch angled near the ground; with text: International Dance Day April 29The Canadian Dance Assembly’s International Dance Day message this year is from bboy Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli:

“No matter what age, race, sex or ability one may have, everyone can dance. Dance is within all of us. Some choose to share it with others and some choose to keep it to themselves.
“Life is a dance whether we know it or not. We are constantly dancing with every movement we make, with every breath we take, and with every beat our hearts make, a rhythm is being created. It’s the slightest movements that make the greatest difference in a performance, just like in life it’s the little things that matter.
“Dance is the connection between you and the universe; while we are dancing we are developing ourselves based on the energy, the emotions, and the challenges we experience. It is up to us to determine how we want to communicate our dance to the world.
“Dance is the ultimate form of self-expression and it is the escape that always reminds us that everything is going to be ok. Dance challenges us to surpass our limitations by discovering strength within.
“So, live your life to the fullest and dance beautifully!”

Image of the International Dance Day Message, with a photo of it's author's face and shoulders.His bio from the CDA website:
“Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli is the founder and creator of the ILL-Abilities™ Crew, an international b-boy crew comprised of the world’s best “Ill-abled” dancers and co-founder of Projet RAD, Canada’s first inclusive urban dance program offering programming out of accessible dance studios across Québec. Patuelli was born with a birth defect that required him to use crutches from an early age. His signature style incorporates crutches and upper-body strength and has garnered him international recognition. Among his many achievements was headlining and co-directing the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver. Luca is also known for his appearance on So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 3 as the only dancer with a disability on any of the SYTYCD franchises to make it into Finals Week.”

Move (and laugh) to Music

A regular highlight of my week is connecting with residents at the Douglas Care Community, for a Move to Music session on Wednesday mornings. There is much laughter and playfulness; adaptive dancing, with relevant music, is excellent for engaging with people who are experiencing memory loss.

After each session I rate how it felt to me, in terms of connecting and engaging with participants, out of 5 stars (with 5 stars meaning ‘great’). The past couple months’ sessions here have felt like: 6 stars, 7 stars, 9 stars (a new record), 6 stars, 3.5 stars, 7 stars, 6 stars, and 8 stars. Thank-you to Leslie for impromptu photos of us with an Octaband (star/ sunshine/ octopus) dance prop a few weeks ago:

An especially beautiful day of programs

Today was an especially beautiful, full day of programs: it started with lively laughter, ribbons and a dance jam circle with people at Wellspring Support; followed by a fox trot, waltz and duets with people at the Cridge Seniors’ Centre; and then flamenco, merengue and graceful collective movement with people at the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Centre Society. The day also involved confirming details for a couple of workshops in March: one at Capital Mental Health Association’s Bridge Program, and another at the Victoria Brain Injury Society. In the evening I prepared for the rest of the week, including for tomorrow morning’s weekly session at the Douglas Care Community.

It is an honour to get to connect and move with so many wonderful people. Participants continually remind me that there are so many ways to express joy without using words.

An exhilarating Sunday

It was an especially splendid session today with Lifetime Networks’ dance group, with everyone able to attend for the first time in a few weeks. When I asked for feedback, participants said that today’s session was:

exhilarating, joyful, fun, relaxing, refreshing, rewarding, independent, awesome, laughing, lordly, good, wonderful, perfect, A+.

A participant asked to lead the warm-up, and then we taught each other dance moves, moved with ribbons, had a dance-off in small groups, had a jam circle with the option of going in the middle to do a solo or in twos, and ended with stretching. After each session I write down how it felt to me, rating it out of five stars; today was an 8-star session!Lifetime Networks logo and text: lasting friendship & support for people with disabilities