Dance Well is Akademi’s participatory and performance programme which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the UK through the medium of South Asian Dance. Akademi’s learning and participation dance artists deliver a range of workshops, experiences and performances for all ages; from children to older adults, across a variety of settings from community organisations and care homes to hospital atriums and wards.
Akademi’s track record of community and health work demonstrates that South Asian dance can have a powerful impact on the health and wellbeing of the general population. Physical inactivity costs the NHS over £450m per year (Gov, 2016) and is the leading cause of long-term health conditions such as coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, cancer. Levels of adherence to “traditional” physical activity such as gym membership and seated exercises classes are suboptimal (Picorelli, Periera, Pereira, FelÍcio, Sherrington, 2014; Franco et al. 2016). The creative arts are evidenced to act as agents of wellness and healing, through stimulation of creativity, and by incorporating music, movement, humour and aesthetics (2010, Malchiodi) and dance can therefore provide a creative, nurturing enjoyable alternative.
These issues have been amplified by the effects of the COVID19 pandemic, resulting in an even greater need for our work within the communities we serve. Many members of our Dance Well community are vulnerable, living with chronic health conditions including dementia, and many experience anxiety, isolation and loneliness. By increasing levels of physical activity through dance classes, while providing opportunities for social interaction and shared experiences, it may be possible to delay the onset or reduce the impact of disease and increase overall levels of physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“We have been through a most traumatic period in human history with consequences devastating to older people. This has hit our users very hard. Around 70% report high levels of anxiety and social isolation. Dance Well sessions became a life-line enabling people to take part at home”
Tony Bloor, Dance Well Partner, Third Age Project, 2021
Alongside the Dance Well participatory programme, Akademi delivers a hugely successful performance programme across a number of London hospitals, including a 24 year long-standing partnership with Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. Feedback from existing hospital programmes has demonstrated the positive impact these performances have on patients, visitors and staff alike.
Akademi maintains a high standard of artistic, performance and teaching quality across all of our programmes, ensuring dance artists receive specialist training for delivery of dance in these settings.
Reports and Evaluations
Dance Well Project Report
2016 – 2019
Our full report of the three-year project, including challenges and learning from the process and where this work will now take us.
Royal London Hospital workshops
June – August 2017
This evaluation provides an overview of the Dance Well workshops at the Royal London Hospital for Older People’s Services, including observational evidence as well as feedback from staff of the Royal London Hospital.