Shaper what? Caper who?
We are a dance company and registered charity based in Dundee, Scotland. We believe in Shaping Reality through Creative Adventures. This is our vision, and our mission is to provide Dance for All. Since our inception we have been committed to working at the grassroots level of the community, offering opportunities to explore movement and creativity to anyone regardless of age, ability or socioeconomic status.
We think creativity provides an incomparable opportunity to engage with life that is both meaningful and regenerative, and our dance work creates a space for people to connect through motion, emotion and wonder. In both our touring and creative learning work, we strive to use the transformative power of the arts as a force for change and want our work to resonate on a profoundly human level, inspiring audiences to stand out, be heard, and take action to create positive change in their community. These values sit at the very heart of who we are as a company and radiate throughout the work we do.
What do we do?
We work with people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, often working in schools, hospitals, care homes and community centres. We also tour the work of Dundee-born multi-award-winning Artistic Director and choreographer and first ever BBC Radio 2 Artist in Residence, Thomas Small. Our high-quality and impactful work in the community is well recognised across Tayside. One of our main projects is delivered in partnership with NHS Tayside, who we have worked with for 10 years across different organisations. As we continue to collaborate and develop the project we have reached over 35,000 children in schools with this project alone. Recently our efforts were recognised by One Dance UK as we were named finalists for their Inspirational Work in Education Award 2019 and have been nominated again for the second year in a row!
Our Dance for Parkinson's classes
We've been teaching Dance for Parkinson's classes in Dundee since 2018 and are now expanding to Fife and Angus due to high demand. Since the lockdown, we have taken our services online, delivering live classes via Zoom and expanding our support to include Digital Socials, befriending support, a video archive of exercises to practice at home and any other support that our groups may need.
The online classes are led by our Creative Learning Coordinator Sarah Greene and supported by our Dance Artist Alex McCrossan. They run for 1.5 hours including our initial 'Good News of the Week' segment, where we all share and celebrate the big and small things happening in our lives each week, and some time at the end of each session to cool down gently.
Before the lockdown, we had some local press coverage from the Evening Telegraph and That's TV and the local NHS Tayside specialist began recommending the classes to people. Last year we performed in The Great Big Dance Show at Dundee Rep Theatre, a first for any Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland class and a feat that some participants never dreamt they would be doing in a million years, let alone after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. As a result of this enriching experience, through the nerves beforehand and the enormous sense of accomplishment felt by the participants after performing, the bond between our group has grown even stronger.
Continuing these digital sessions until we can do them again face-to-face is aligned with our Health and Wellbeing pillar of work, which is rooted in all of our Creative Learning work, alongside new research projects on Social Prescribing with the Arts in partnership with Dundee and other Scottish Universities in the central-belt.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. Symptoms affect individuals to different degrees and the cardinal physical effects include dyskinesia (resting tremor), slowness of movement (bradykinesia), stiffness of muscles, ‘freezing’ while moving, lack of coordination and a posture that becomes stooped. Facial expressions can be affected resulting in a ‘mask’ face quelling expression of emotions; the voice may also become quieter. Non-motor symptoms, linked to the aforementioned physical effects, include depression, which can lead to loneliness and isolation.
The benefits of the class
- Increased confidence
- Improved fluidity of movement and flexibility
- Improved balance
- Improved coordination
- Help people with Parkinson’s communicate and express themselves
- Promote a sense of community that is particularly meaningful, motivating and energising for people living with Parkinson’s through inclusion and positive social interaction
As well as the physical benefits, there are mental, emotional and social benefits of the classes too! The sense of normality and social interaction can improve our participants’ mood, as well as offer family/carers some respite from the 24/7 care they provide. Notably, a number of participants say that they also use some elements of the exercises outwith the class as they go about their daily lives. The benefits aren’t just limited to the class itself, in fact, they extend much further and can improve the overall quality of life for people with Parkinson’s, making the class that much more valuable to those who attend.
Here are what some of our participants have to say!
“I like the classes mainly because of the fellowship and the fun that you have. The exercises are attributable to specifically Parkinson’s. I find them very helpful. You don’t appreciate at times how difficult it can be coping with Parkinson’s and all the various activities that you wish to follow.” – Jim
“I like to come to the class on a Monday, it’s good to meet with people that have got Parkinson’s. The staff put a lot of work into what they tell us to do and all the exercises are beneficial to the people that have got Parkinson’s. It’s also good for the people that don’t have, because we are all working hard together, and it doesn’t matter how good we are or how bad we are but it’s good fun.” – Dorothy
“I come to the class because it’s good fun and it’s good to meet people with Parkinson’s and share experiences with them. You don’t feel self-conscious because everyone has got virtually the same experiences, same problems and it makes you move and use muscles that you never would think about doing yourself. It’s just really enjoyable and good fun. It takes your mind off other things and gives you respite from worrying about your Parkinson’s.” – Eileen
What your support means to us
Our participants are living with a degenerative long-term health condition as well as navigating all the uncertainties, fears and challenges around Covid-19. They have developed a strong sense of support and camaraderie since performing at Dundee Rep last November, so keeping up the digital activity and being able to celebrate a year since their debut performance will be an amazing and uplifting achievement. Participants are reportedly expressing increased happiness, better mobility, better social relationships and empathy. This is usually noticed across all stakeholders, in this case, the participants and their friends and families.