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Fleeting moments lift spirits of people with dementia

  • Date: 8 August 2014
  • Artform: Combined arts, Dance, Music, Theatre
  • Area: North
Participants and performers sharing umbrellas at the performance Taking part in Fleeting Moments at the Bluecoat, Simon Richardson

A ground breaking dementia friendly performance project has taken place in Liverpool to help support those living with dementia.

Dance company Chaturangan were awarded £10,000 through our Grants for the arts scheme to create a high quality, mainstream public arts performance. This was accessible to all and specifically considered the access needs of people with dementia.

The innovative Fleeting Moments was performed at the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool in 2013 and nearly 200 people took part.

Dementia friendly performances

All aspects of the performance and its presentation were shaped to engage people living with dementia and their companions. The welcome, the seating layout, the content of the performance and lighting were all designed to help people feel more comfortable and blur the lines between performer and audience. Audience participation was gently encouraged and simple artistic activities followed short performances. These worked both as comfort breaks and kept people engaged.

Performances evolved during a series of creative workshops led by Chaturangan. Residential sessions took place over three days with couples who had one partner living with dementia. Couples were encouraged to share their personal stories and memories, talk about songs and music they liked and dances they had enjoyed, all of which fed into the final performances.

Interacting with the audience

The performances included Chinese, Indian and Western contemporary dance with live music and vocal improvisation. Everyone enjoyed the novel mix of dance, story, music, costume and the use of props as umbrellas were used to bring the performers and audience together.

One activity co-ordinator said: 'He doesn't communicate like this in the home. Look at him responding to the person next to him. And he joined in with the dance!'

The artists involved with the project also felt that it enhanced their skills in sharing and engaging with others in their work, especially through the experience of working with those with dementia.

Bisakha Sarker, Artistic Director of Chaturangan said: 'We hope that this project will inspire others to create work that embraces people living with dementia, their family and friends.'

You can learn more about Chaturangan's work on their website. 

For more information about Grants for the arts, see artscouncil.org.uk/gfta

For further advice, phone 0845 300 6200 or email enquiries@artscouncil.org.uk