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Circle Dance for People Living with Dementia

Circle Dance for People with Dementia is a training programme, provided by Dementia Pathfinders Community Interest Company, for staff in care homes or day centres, community groups, Local Authorities and the NHS, and for community musicians and dancers.

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Circle Dance for People Living with Dementia
Circle Dance for People Living with Dementia

Time & Location

15 Jun 2024, 10:00 – 16:00

Alton, Assembly Rooms, High St, Alton GU34 1BA, UK

About the Event

Circle  dancing developed from traditional folk dance from around the world.  Music and dances from the circle dance repertoire have been simplified  and adapted for both seated and standing dance. The touch, holding,  swaying, and simple repetitive movements allow the participant to feel  safe within the circle and provides an opportunity for expression and  creativity. The dance also provides an enjoyable form of exercise and  movement.

The aim and scope of the Circle Dance

Circle  Dance training aims to enable and skill up staff to provide their own  movement and music sessions with their service users. Staff have  welcomed an activity in which people with moderate/medium stage dementia  can engage. It offers the opportunity for a shared activity with  partners, relatives and carers. It can be used in residential and day  settings, assessment units, NHS and voluntary organisation groups with  older people, people with learning disability, mental health conditions,  and physical disabilities. It can be offered at care home social  events, and Alzheimer's Cafes.

How has Circle Dancing been adapted for people with dementia?

(including learning disability, older people with physical disabilities & mental health conditions)

Dance  and movement have been successfully included in care provision  activities since the 1940s. There is a body of research evidencing the  promotion of well-being through making use of rhythm, touch and  movement; moreover several practitioners/researchers have evidenced the  benefits of using folk music with older people and people with dementia.

From  1996-2002, Dorothy Jerrome provided regular sessions in Brighton, which  were evaluated and written up in dementia journals, and in a book on  therapeutic dance. Building on Dorothy’s work, Cynthia Heymanson and  Kath Kershaw developed and adapted Circle Dance for people living with  dementia and other health issues by training staff in care settings.  Cynthia and Kath worked closely together to provide training across the  UK to empower staff so they can feel confident to provide simple seated  and standing dance and enjoy music and song.

The  management and delivery of Circle Dance, established by Kath and  Cynthia, was transfer to Dementia Pathfinders in October 2013 and we  have delivered many successful training sessions since then.

Course Aim 

This  one-day course will introduce participants to the use of Circle Dance  and provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver  circle dance sessions in their own settings.

The  course is suitable for practitioners who work with people with dementia  in group settings, such as care staff, activity coordinators,  occupational therapists, physiotherapists, community dance  practitioners, community musicians, exercise instructors, day centre  workers and volunteers who are based in settings with people with  dementia.

Course Objectives:

  • To introduce learners to the history of circle dance and its contemporary use in the field of dementia
  • For learners to experience a variety of the circle dances
  • To give a basic understanding of how dementia may affect physical and cognitive skills with respect to dance
  • To equip learners with skills in devising basic choreography for circle dance in dementia
  • To explore links with other activities, such as reminiscence, exercise and music
  • To encourage learners to consider the planning, delivery, observation and monitoring of their circle dance sessions

Learning Outcomes - at the end of the course learners will be able to:

  • State the benefits of dance and specifically circle dance, for people with dementia
  • Describe best practice in group facilitation skills for people with dementia
  • Plan and deliver circle dance sessions in their work settings for people with dementia
  • Create new dance steps to music for use in their settings
  • Devise effective ways of using observation and monitoring of their circle dance sessions

Training Style/Approach

The day is a mixture of taught content, experiential and creative learning, delivered in a relaxed way.

The  delegate rate includes 20 tracks of specially selected Circle Dance  music suitable for standing and seated dance. Also available is an  online resource containing dance notes and choreography, to accompany the music.


Liv McLennan has had a passion for working for people with dementia since her  teens, when her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s-type  dementia. After a music degree and time as an army musician, Liv worked  for various charities, including the Alzheimer’s Society, developing  projects mainly based around peer support and groupwork.    Liv then completed the renowned Certificate in Music Workshop Skills at  Goldsmith’s College, and has been self-employed as a community musician,  working with different groups. The main areas she specialises in are  Early Years, Community Choirs and people with dementia. She works with  various organisations, including Westminster Arts, Age Exchange and  Alzheimer’s Society delivering music, movement, reminiscence and  cross-arts projects. She is also a trainer in these areas and has run  training sessions for community musicians and care workers in how to  incorporate these techniques into their work. Liv plays the cello,  highland bagpipes and saxophone, and dabbles in ukulele and kantele! In  her spare time, she enjoys Circle Dancing and learning Appalachian Clog  Dancing. She is also on the board of trustees for Sound Sense, the Professional Association for Community Musicians.


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    +£1.88 service fee
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