Category Archives: wellbeing

“dealing with life’s challenging moments with movement”

Photo: a very large conference room or hall, with a shiny floor and 7 chairs in a circle
We danced all day in this beautiful hall

The workshop at Royal Roads University on Saturday November 22nd felt amazing and was with an excellent group. We went from 10am – 4:30pm with Dancing into Wellbeing: A Creative Toolkit for Stress.

We danced in the lovely, spacious Grant building quarterdeck, with the sunlight changing angles through the tall windows over the course of the day. We also did a field trip to the building next door with an incredible view over the forests, sea, lagoon and castle. I forgot to take a picture of the view, as I was too focused on the group’s graceful movements and enchanted by the sun going down.

Here are reflections from some participants who were happy to share their words on this website:

From Gaye:
“Thank-you for a wonderful, creative, fun day!”
I learned… “I love to dance. I love the idea of dealing with life’s challenging moments with movement.”
I liked… “everything! If I had to choose a favorite, I guess it would be the personal dance about Needs Inventory. I chose Beauty and composed a hand dance that seemed so beautiful to me, just when I felt I didn’t have a single creative idea in me. Such a wonderful surprise!”
What did not work for you about today’s session? What could Joanne do differently next time? “I don’t know, Joanne, it seemed perfect to me in every way. Well, maybe omit [the song] Que Sera Sera??! :)”

I liked… “that it was low key, no pressure, everything was optional, no right or wrong”
I learned… “that I could move (was afraid of being blocked + wooden)”
What did not work for you about today’s session? What could Joanne do differently next time? “Can’t think of anything. Well maybe end the class 1/2 hour early! (I always feel that’s a bonus, no matter what the course)”

From Larry:
I liked… “great explanations; great pace + relaxed mood; good music to work with; Nina Simone’s song was perfect”
I learned… “greater appreciation of my own movements”
“Thanks for a wonderful day”

Celebrating a couple years at Heart & Hands

Photo of nine adults following one person raising their arms in a V-shapeYou are warmly invited:

Dance Games Night
Thursday October 23rd
At Heart & Hands Health Collective
By donation

This will be the final Thursday Dancing for Wellbeing session this Fall, and it would be great to celebrate all the lovely, nourishing dance times at Heart & Hands since January 2013.

A couple options for Dancing for Wellbeing next month:

Starting October 29th there will be Dancing for Wellbeing classes on Wednesdays at 6pm at Fernwood Community Centre.

On Saturday November 22nd there will be a full-day workshop at Royal Roads University, Dancing into Wellbeing: A Creative Toolkit for Stress.

For more opportunities to dance, see the list of upcoming sessions.

Dancing at Our Place

Want to dance like no one’s watching? There are free drop-in dance sessions on Fridays at 1pm at Our Place (919 Pandora Ave.), on the second floor in the interfaith chapel.

Art of 8 people dancing in front of a rainbow, three seated and five standing; below is a heart, humminbird and music notes
Creative Momentum art by Naomi Kennedy.

No prior dance experience needed. (-:

On Fridays we’ll do a simple warm-up and then a variety of dance activities. The focus is on moving in new ways, releasing stress, being creative & having fun.

The overall style is freestyle / dance improvisation, with guided activities, where we each choose how we feel like moving & interacting. Music requests so far have been rock, reggae, swing, disco, hip hop, salsa, Arabic, soca, dub, + more ideas are very welcome.

You are welcome to dance seated, or to stand. Activities are adapted for the group. Facilitated by JoanneQuestions? Ask Joanne on Friday just before 1pm or be in touch. The sessions began in September and will continue over the winter until February.

Accessibility: To use the elevator to access the second floor, please ask at the front desk. To confirm in advance that the elevator is working, or to check about the width of the doorway into the chapel, call Our Place 250-388-7112.

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.)

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

Dance Games in the park! + Pride flashmob?

Would you like to help create a simple dancing flashmob for Pride?

Come by Wed. June 25th to come up with a flash mob together. It will likely be based on dance improvisation games, so that it is easier for people to join in. There will be no need to remember a routine or fancy choreography. No particular dance skills needed.

Photo of a rainbow crosswalk and 7 people crossing the street towards the camera
Rainbow crosswalk, photo by Travis Lupick:

We’re meeting up behind the Fernwood Community Centre (1240 Gladstone) – either on the field, or on the basketball court if that is more accessible for anyone. For a map: it is at William Stevenson Park in Lekwungen Homelands.

7:00pm Dance Games warm-up facilitated by Joanne

7:30pm Planning a flash mob for during the Pride festival (Sun. July 6th) and/or Alt Pride Community Festival (Sat. July 5th), if we have enough people confirmed. If not, we’ll hang out and have a picnic in the park. (-:

For some ideas for the flash mob, here are some video examples – perhaps the flash mob could involve the liveliness of this flashmob in Mumbai (YAARIYAN presents MUMBAI QUEER FLASHMOB 2013), include a ‘follow-the-leader’ game perhaps led by a child (e.g. Little choreographer), and there could be an option during the flash mob for some people to do a bit of free-form partner dance that people will be learning on June 28th at a Homospun eventDo you have any examples of flash mobs that you really like? Feel free to comment below or send the link. Thanks!

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. )

Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

Photo: a dozen dancers squatting leaning left with right arms raised
Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in Ailey`s Revelations. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

This week’s Dancing for Wellbeing theme is arms and shapes; for examples of the expressive power of arms, lines, curves, and angles, here is a video of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations.

(Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre was in town last week – I am really grateful to have seen their amazing show on Wednesday!)

Photo borrowed from this link.