Move to Music with older adults

Move to Music sessions focus on fun, well-being and building a sense of community. Sessions are available for groups and individuals at seniors’ residences, care facilities, day programs, and community centres. As well as Move to Music sessions, Dancing for Brain Health (proactive sessions for 50yrs+) is available.

Please note that all programs are currently on pause. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the summer, then starting in July 2020 dance programs for older adults and Elders will be available remotely via Zoom.

Dancing is an excellent way to support brain health, along with physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.

Photo of three women sitting in chairs dancing with scarves.
A jive/ jitterbug with scarves

Research over the past decade has found that the combination of cognitive stimulation, social engagement and physical activity is ideal for reducing the risk of dementia. Movement is key for healthy aging, maintaining mobility and quality of life, and music is a wonderful medium for connecting and uplifting.

Overview of sessions
Photo of 5 people seated moving their arms
Waltzing arms

The dance activities and music vary each time, to keep it engaging. Move to Music sessions include a gentle warm-up, a simplified social dance step, a sing-along from the 1940s, 50s or 60s, and movement activities that can all be done seated. The instructor integrates elements from ballroom and various dance styles (e.g. Waltz, Jive, Flamenco, Cha Cha, Tap), as well as dance improvisation and dance-movement therapy. The music includes big band, jazz, world music and rhythm & blues as well as other genres.

Various fitness aspects are woven in to the class: cardio, muscular strength, endurance and power, flexibility, balance, reaction speed, and multi-tasking. Participants are equally welcome to dance with smaller or bigger movements, or to simply rest, enjoy the music and dance through their imagination. The most important thing is that participants pay attention to what their body, brains and senses need, and listen to their own limits.

Photo: ten people seated in a circle, each holding an arm of a sunshine prop with a pink circle centre.
A sunshine (Octaband) dance prop to engage with participants experiencing memory loss

Group classes are done with chairs in a circle; it is a chance to be social, exploring dance and creativity in a supportive setting.

In these classes, there is no “wrong” way to danceand there are no routines to remember. No prior dance experience needed. Move to Music classes include a mix of guided dance and improvised movement activities. The instructor provides an example and general structure, encouraging each person to move in the ways that work for their body, mobility, brain, and senses.

Tailored to your group

Photo of a dancer spinning to the right using a wheelchairOptions for classes include a seated class, a standing class, or a mixed class (where each participant chooses whether to do the activities while sitting or standing). Remote sessions on Zoom are seated classes, and require a staff person to remain with participants to ensure their safety.

Sessions can be biweekly, weekly, monthly, or a one-time workshop.

Photo: two adults dancing facing each other looking downThe length of the sessions is geared to what is appropriate for the members of the location. At most locations 45 minutes is excellent; at some care facilities and remotely on Zoom, 30 minutes might be more appropriate.

Some examples of what current Activity Coordinators call the program at their residences: Move to Music, Dancing with Joanne, Chair Dancing, and Dance for Brain Health.

Would you like to discuss whether Move to Music sessions would be a good fit? Please be in touch to speak about options or to schedule a session.

So many benefits to dancing!

Photo: one person with a big smile, sitting, dancing armsResearch has shown that dancing is one of the very few physical activities that reduce the risk of dementia. Learning new movements, and the creativity involved in making choices about how we want to move, helps to nurture and rewire the brain. Some research has shown that taking exercise classes, walking and swimming do not reduce the risk of dementia, however dancing at least 4 times a week does (source: Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the ElderlyNew England Journal of Medicine).

Being active is one of the most important aspects of better health in later years (source: Heart & Stroke Foundation). As Pat Nichol summarized in May 2013′s Senior Living Magazine: “Dancing, more than any other form of exercise has been found to delay the aging process.

Dance is also a great way to express ourselves freely, and to be social without needing to say anything verbally. As mentioned above, dancing can be a beautiful way to support physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual wellbeing.

About the facilitator (Joanne Cuffe)

I am passionate about creating opportunities for everyone to dance in their own way. I love connecting with each person and bringing a group of people together. I aim to create fun, welcoming classes that my grandparents would have enjoyed.

Photo of 6 dancers (ages 30-100) seated in a semi-circle, each with their right hand reaching to their right foot, and smiling to the camera.
Joanne (left), as part of the Glenshiel Dancers. Photo credit: Kirk Schwartz.

I have been teaching dance since 2003, and since 2013 I have been facilitating dance programs full-time, mainly with older adults. I have been studying dance since I was 6 years old, have professional training in contemporary dance, and have studied dance improvisation with more than 30 teachers. My Master’s of Education is in Community Leadership and Adult Education. I have current First Aid and CPR certification, a Criminal Record Check, and Dance Instructor Professional Liability Insurance. (For additional info please see the About Creative Momentum and About Joanne pages.)

Click here to be in touch.

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