Boogie Wonderland: A ReflectionTue 18 July 2023
Part of: Dance On
On the 29th April, the Dance On programme hosted Boogie Wonderland at Leeds Playhouse for over 70 older adults. This takeover took place as part of the Playhouse’s 1001 Stories project which was a celebration of older people’s creativity through performances, exhibitions, music, dance and more over two weeks.
Dance On artist Sophie Simpson supported the project as Lead Artist. This is what she had to say about the day…
The Boogie Wonderland project was held on International Dance Day as part of the 1001 Stories event at Leeds Playhouse for participants of Dance On and the general public. As part of our schedule for the day, we began with a 70s style dance workshop which I delivered. Each of the Dance On groups from across Leeds and Bradford then shared a choreographed dance to an audience and then we hosted a 70s style disco to finish the day off!
To get everyone into the spirit for the event we arranged for participants to wear 70s style costumes provided by Leeds Playhouse’s costume department and make-up artists were also arranged to give the participants some new looks! It was an opportunity to embrace the 70s fashion and reminisce about old memories.
Like all Dance On events and classes, participants were encouraged to dance standing or seated and what I taught during the workshop could be taken to the dance floor and disco!
We had six Dance On groups altogether from across mainly Leeds and one from Bradford; each of us had our own individual group routines which we performed and then we had one routine that we did altogether. The finale routine to the track ‘Boogie Wonderland’ engaged every single person in the room. It was awesome to see all the participants in 70s fashion.
The Dance On participants absolutely love engaging in projects like this, it really brings them out of their comfort zone and boosts their confidence. In their everyday day lives they wouldn’t have the opportunity to perform at Leeds Playhouse and so I feel it’s very beneficial to the participants. It gives them a sense of achievement on an individual level and as a community.
Another benefit of the project was the inter-generational impact as the participants’ families were invited along too. Family members came to us and spoke afterwards about how brilliant the performance was and how we captured the essence of the 70s era especially within different cultures.
People were having the time of their lives! The atmosphere was amazing; you could just see on everybody’s faces – the smiles, the laughs… All those up dancing showcased the social element of the programme and emphasized how dance is universal across cultures and ages. It was a good example of how Dance On brings people together and builds connections.
Dance has a massive range of benefits, there’s no age limit to dance and from our workshop and performance it shows that even people who have mobility issues can still join in.
Quotes from participants
“I really enjoyed the workshop performances and disco yesterday.”
“The workshop was brilliant!”
“Dance On groups from across Leeds and Bradford come along to perform, socialise and dance the afternoon away at a 70s inspired disco. I really enjoyed it!”
1001 Stories was a collaboration between The Performance Ensemble, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Museums and Galleries and Leeds Older People’s Forum for LEEDS 2023.
Photos: David Lindsay