Category Archives: for brain health

Want to help create a 50+ Dance Troupe?

Dancing in community is an excellent way to engage with aging.

This is an invitation to join a new dance group, which will be shaped by participants’ interests:

50+ Dance Troupe
*the group will come up with its actual name once it meets.

Mondays 2:00pm-3:30pm
At Cedar Hill Recreation (3220 Cedar Hill Rd) in the Dance Studio.
Free. Facilitated by Joanne Cuffe in partnership with Saanich Parks & Recreation.

Oct. 17 – Nov. 14 (5 weeks): Dancing + Brainstorming sessions. Sessions include an hour of movement (a warm-up and guided improvisation activities for moving as a group) and a half-hour of brainstorming ideas and discussing what everyone is interested in.

All abilities welcome. No prior dance experience needed.

50+ is just a suggestion; adults under 50 are welcome too if there is room.

No need to register – just come by the dance studio on the dates that you can make!

If you are interested in the dance troupe but not available this autumn, there will be an opportunity to join the group in the New Year (there will be an intro session on Monday Jan. 23rd at 2:15pm-3:30pm at the Cedar Hill Recreation Dance Studio).

For more information: contact the facilitator or just come by a session!

Background context:
-Earlier this year, participants in Joanne‘s Dance for Brain Health class at Cedar Hill Recreation suggested creating a seniors’ dance troupe. We’re glad to move the good idea ahead!
-Dancing is fantastic for brain health, as well as physical, emotional and social well-being. Research has found that frequent dancing is one of the best activities for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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.
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).

Septembery highlights

Dance programs in September have been a lot of fun! I have had a splendid time connecting and moving with so many new participants.

A few highlights:

  • A rowdy group of dancers aged 4 to around 84 all laughing and grooving together;
  • A participant, in his 40s, mentioned a couple of times that the dance session was the first time he had ever danced while sober, which he said was something he had always wanted to do;
  • Full houses for both Dancing for Brain Health demos this month (for an overview of the demos see this post).

Photo: 7 adults in a circle around a sun-shaped prop, each holding a strandThere were 174 unique participants at sessions in September – including a new record for me of 128 new participants in one month. I facilitated sessions at 14 different locations, including 7 new places, in a lovely time of year for trying out new bike routes between sessions. (For a sample of a week`s programs, see the Joy & cohesion post.)

Dancing for brain health: demos memo

I had fantastic times at the Dancing for Brain Health demos last week! Thank-you to everyone for your great reflections and feedback.

Last Wednesday at the Monterey demo we fit 19 of us in a smaller room and filled the place with laughter. We warmed up with the BrainDance, and mid-way through the demo, each person suggested a fun dance move for the group to follow. We began the cool-down with mini dances (dancing with just one part of the body at a time, inspired by a Margie Gillis activity) to Dancing Queen by ABBA.

An image of the brain with a few sections labeled.
Image of the brain, from OpenStax College*

On Friday in Cook Street Village, we were in a much bigger room, although with around 24 of us in a big circle we filled up the space. We did a simple social dance step in twos, sparking new connections and boisterous conversations. We played a human-sized tic-tac-toe game, and then waltzed with scarves while singing along to Que Sera Sera by Doris Day. Most participants were in their 50s-70s, although the age range varied from 30s-90s.
A side note… on Friday a participant left behind a brassiere – if you forgot to take your bra with you, please find it at the Cook Street Village Activity Centre lost & found!

Although the demos were big groups, the upcoming series of classes will be kept smaller so that we have more space for moving around. Each week will include a variety of dance activities and types of music. There is still some room in the series on Wednesdays at the Monterey Centre and Fridays at Cook Street Village Activity Centre.

Is there anything that you are wondering in terms of what the upcoming sessions will be like, or whether it will be a good fit for what you are looking for? If so, please be in touch (see the Contact page for contact info – there is also a sign-up form for the monthly Dancing for Brain Health updates there). And please feel free to share this memo with any friends you think might be interested.

Thank-you everyone, and I hope to dance with you soon,


*Creative Commons brain image by OpenStax College: The Central Nervous System. OpenStax CNX. May 10, 2013

Upcoming Free Sessions!

You are warmly invited to these free classes:

  • Monday Aug. 25, 11am: Dancing for Brain Health 11am at James Bay Community Project (547 Michigan Street). To register: Lisa 250-388-7844 ext. 308.
  • Monday Sept. 8, 1:45pm: Dancing for Wellbeing (all abilities) at Cedar Hill Recreation (3220 Cedar Hill Rd, Saanich). RSVP to the Saanich Arts Centre: or 250-475-5557. Drop-ins welcome.
  • Thursday Sept. 11, 7:30pm: Intro to Dancing for Wellbeing at Heart & Hands Health Collective (851 Cormorant Street). To register: contact Joanne. Drop-ins welcome.
  • Wednesday Sept. 17, 2:30pm is FULLDancing for Brain Health at Monterey Centre (1442 Monterey Ave, Oak Bay). To register for the series that starts Sept. 24th: 250-370-7300 or online.
  • Friday Sept. 19, 11am: Dancing for Brain Health at Cook Street Village Activity Centre (1 – 380 Cook Street). To register: 250-384-6542 / Drop-ins welcome.

Click on any of the above dates for details about that session.

Joy & cohesion ~ at this week’s programs

I have thoroughly enjoyed the past week of community dance programs; the groups have felt even more uplifting and interconnected than previously.

Below are some compiled anecdotes – things definitely are busy even though community centre classes are on break for the summer! So far this month there have been 81 new people at programs, and this week I have danced with 100 different people. It feels wonderful to make so many connections.

Notes from the past week:

  • Towards the end of last Thursday’s adaptive dance session Photo: 6 people dancing different movesat Garth Homer Society, we were all moving in a circle in the same direction. A participant started doing the grape vine and a staff person mentioned to him that she had not seen him taking such big steps before. Two participants started improvising together in the middle of the circle doing partner dancing. When the program started in February, a staff person observed that “it’s wonderful to see so many clients across a wide range all engaged by the same activity – it’s rare.”
  • That afternoon, after a Dancing for Brain Health demo where 25 members of Seniors’ Social Connections at James Bay Community Project had danced seated in a circle, a participant in her late 70s danced over towards me doing an exuberant Merengue step – we danced together for a bit and she mentioned she planned to dance the whole way out of the building.
  • I began yesterday with Dance Games with a group of 4-6 year olds at a Burnside Gorge Community Association camp. I was amused by how a brand new activity emerged when participants heard my instructions in a different way than I had intended. The participants also had creative suggestions for how to move around and under a giant jelly fish prop. Continue reading Joy & cohesion ~ at this week’s programs

Wrap-up of Spring Dancing for Brain Health

Photo: two people dancing facing each other smiling

Thank-you to everyone who has been part of the Dancing for Brain Health program this Spring at the Bayanihan Community Centre. It has been an honour to witness your dancing and to be part of your process.

I am excited to connect again for the Dancing for Brain Health series in the Fall! The program will be at two locations: Monterey Centre (Wednesdays at 2:30pm) and Cook Street Village Activity Centre (Fridays at 11am).

p.s. Much gratitude to the participants at last week’s class who agreed to be in photos for the website, as well as to the photographer and the people who chose not to be in the photos.

Photo: two people facing opposite directions; one crossing right leg over left; the other with wrists crossed.brainhealth two duets smiling

A delightful month

Photo: 7 people posing with their own a dance move
International Dance Day sidewalk party with an awesome group!

It has been a delightful month of dance – thank-you to everyone who has been part of it!

From improv with a lovely group at the International Dance Day sidewalk dance party, to adventures in movement at the Dancing for Brain Health and Dancing for Wellbeing classes, to  joyful connections at day programs and seniors’ residences, and to the past week of workshops and choreographic project with Crystal Pite and Kidd Pivot dancers – I am grateful for the enlivening, interesting month.

(The Kidd Pivot company also performed in town last Wednesday: a brilliant, stunning The Tempest Replica. )