Betty & Janet, Dancing in TimeMon 25 June 2018
Part of: Dancing In Time
Dancing in Time was a partnership with University of Leeds and Leeds Community Health Care focusing on the impact of dance on the health and wellbeing of older adults.
The project, taking place across Leeds, provided new dancing activity for older adults who have little access to dance, researching the impact of dance on the health and wellbeing of older adults, especially the impact of their physical activity levels, which is widely accepted as contributing to health and happiness.
The research paper has been published here.
Janet and her mum, 87-year-old Betty, were members of our Dancing in Time group which met in Belle Isle.
Betty heard about Dancing in Time on BBC Radio Leeds and mentioned it to Janet, suggesting they might give it a go.
Now 64 years old, Janet retired two years ago. She took part in Zumba classes for a while, but found she was attending less and less frequently, and got out of the habit of going, though she still considered herself an active person.
When she first heard about Dancing in Time she didn’t know quite what to expect, and suspected it might not be as energetic as she’d like. She and her mum haven’t recently been able to enjoy many activities together, as Betty is partially-sighted and suffers from arthritis.
We asked them to tell us what they thought of Dancing in Time, and Betty told us, “I like everything about the project; the camaraderie, the music and the dancing. I liked doing the sequences and we did a bit of cool down too – sort of tai chi, I think. We did creative things – I felt a bit foolish but it made me laugh and I enjoyed it. It made me think – it’s good mentally, too. I put in everything I had.”
Janet added, “The dance leader, Helen, was very clear and the assistants were always around to be supportive. They went over and above what was expected of them.
“It was great that my mum and I were able to take part in an activity together. I felt great after the sessions. I went home on a high, although I felt calm at the same time!
“We enjoyed that these sessions were really local to us. There isn’t anything else similar available locally at the moment.”
They both said that they’d felt long-term benefits as a result of taking part in Dancing in Time. Betty told us, “My neck and shoulders feel much better – they’re more supple and move easier.
“I feel more confident about moving and dancing. We recently went to Blackpool, to the Tower ballroom for afternoon tea. I was tapping my feet and this lady asked if I would like to dance with her husband. I said no at first but then thought ‘why not’ and gave it a go. It felt fantastic to be moving around the dance floor – wonderful. I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t gone to Dancing in Time.”
We asked them both what they’d say to other older adults considering whether to take part in dance. Janet said, “Go and enjoy it! We made some lovely new friends and had a laugh.”
Betty added, “It’ll do you the world of good – just come along.”
In many neighbourhoods Dancing in Time activity has become self-sustaining even in such a short period of time, although not everywhere. Yorkshire Dance will be exploring sustainability-models further through Dance On, a new programme supported by Sport England.