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Thursday 9 September 2021

Waltzing back to class with help from UCLan dance students

Final year students help local dancers get their rhythm back through Parkinson’s Oop North project

Dance students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are once again limbering up in preparation to resume a popular weekly dance class teaching local people living with Parkinson’s.

The final year dance and performance teaching students will work with dance and health artist and researcher Dr Melanie Brierley, from Conscious Bodies, and LPM Dance to deliver weekly hour-long classes designed to help participants with mobility, balance and movement confidence.

The workshops are part of LPM’s Preston Moves project, funded by Arts Council England, with Preston classes led by Dr Brierley who specialises in teaching dance to people living with Parkinson’s. UCLan Dance was involved in the successful project before the pandemic and classes will begin again on the 22 of September, with help from around 10 students who each partner with a class member to help them during the lesson.

"Many participants develop a great rapport with the students they work with and it’s lovely to see these relationships blossom."

Dr Melanie Brierley from Conscious Bodies

Dr Brierley said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming back the participants who get a lot out of the class physically and mentally. It’s a great social experience too. Many participants develop a great rapport with the students they work with and it’s lovely to see these relationships blossom.”

UCLan senior lecturer in dance performance and teaching Ruth Spencer works with Dr Brierley and LPM Dance to involve her students with the project, which forms part of the community dance module.

She said: “The dance and Parkinson’s sessions give students opportunities to work with members of the public alongside experienced and well-respected dance artists. The students see first-hand the potential of dance in supporting physical and mental wellbeing and improving quality of life.”

"Being involved with this project has given me a deeper understanding of how I can adapt movement to suit all participants needs. "

UCLan final year dance student Paige Douglas

Student Paige Douglas is one of the students involved with the project. She said: “Being involved with this project has given me a deeper understanding of how I can adapt movement to suit all participants needs. After I graduate, I can take the new knowledge I have gained in adapting movement to make my own facilitation practise more inclusive within the community.”

Fellow student helper Chloe Morrisey added: “Being able to shadow and support Helen Gould and Melanie Brierley in these classes has really improved my ability to be inclusive and adaptable during my facilitation and choreographic practice.”

The project has proved to be such a success it has been included as an example of best practice in a new participatory arts toolkit, The Proof is in the Pudding, which is available nationally to support dance artists working in participatory settings.

The Preston Moves dance classes will begin on 22 September at 2.00pm at the University’s dance studios in the UCLan Media Factory building.

For more information, visit the LPM Dance website or email LPM Dance.