Dancing With Dementia: Exploring the Embodied Dimensions of Creativity and Social Engagement. By: Kontos, Pia; Grigorovich, Alisa; Kosurko, An; Bar, Rachel J; Herron, Rachel V; Menec, Verena H; Skinner, Mark W. Gerontologist. Aug2021, Vol. 61 Issue 5, p714-723. 10p.

Background and Objectives: Dance is increasingly being implemented in residential long-term care to improve health and function. However, little research has explored the potential of dance to enhance social inclusion by supporting embodied self-expression, creativity, and social engagement of persons living with dementia and their families.

Research Design and Methods: This was a qualitative sequential multiphase study of Sharing Dance Seniors, a dance program that includes a suite of remotely streamed dance sessions that are delivered weekly to participants in long-term care and community settings. Our analysis focused on the participation of 67 persons living with dementia and 15 family carers in residential long-term care homes in Manitoba, Canada. Data included participant observation, video recordings, focus groups, and interviews; all data were analyzed thematically.

Results: We identified 2 themes: playfulness and sociability. Playfulness refers to the ways that the participants let go of what is “real” and became immersed in the narrative of a particular dance, often adding their own style. Sociability captures the ways in which the narrative approach of the Sharing Dance Seniors program encourages connectivity/intersubjectivity between participants and their community; participants co-constructed and collaboratively animated the narrative of the dances.

Discussion and Implications: Our findings highlight the playful and imaginative nature of how persons living with dementia engage with dance and demonstrate how this has the potential to challenge the stigma associated with dementia and support social inclusion. This underscores the urgent need to make dance programs such as Sharing Dance Seniors more widely accessible to persons living with dementia everywhere.