20 March 2017

Health benefits of dance explored in expert talk

Health benefits of dance explored in expert talk

A facilitator of dance for health and wellbeing and former international ballet master was at Abertay University to share how his dedicated dance sessions can have a positive impact on the lives of people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis.

Andrew Greenwood told an audience at Abertay’s Hannah Maclure Centre of the growing economy in the wellness and health market, and how policymakers are recognising a demand for a different approach to managing health.

The 54-year-old, who has performed in ballet companies all over the world including the US, Brazil and Europe, developed his Switch2Move workshops as a way of using movement and artistic practice techniques to improve serious health conditions.

He said: “When a person is diagnosed with an incurable disease, they start to be treated as a ‘person with Parkinson’s or ‘Alzheimer’s’ and treatments are very concentrated on the condition rather than the individual.

“I recognised that the health condition is only 10% of the actual person and realised I could make a difference.

“For example, somebody with Parkinson’s has very clear symptoms so you know they need to work on balance, flexibility, stability and cognition.

“With MS you need more of a ‘moving meditation’ and open space way to approach the person and if it’s someone with Alzheimer’s you get fully up in their face, because in half an hour they may not know who you are.”

Andrew travelled from his home in Amsterdam to deliver the talk, which was hosted by Abertay’s Dundee Academy of Sport and Division of Psychology.

He said a new market in movement for wellbeing was emerging, adding: “Policymakers are looking for new ways of finding personal empowerment, because we currently have an inactivity epidemic.”

Andrew’s visit was organised by Abertay psychology lecturer Dr Corinne Jola, who has over a decade of expertise in research on the neuronal and cognitive processes involved in dance.

Recently, she has written a chapter for an upcoming book on the health benefits of dance.

Dr Jola has worked in multidisciplinary research projects on the perception and cognition of dance in prestigious universities across Europe, before taking up her position at Abertay.

Her background is not just in the sciences, she is also a dancer and a choreographer.

She said: “This chapter is a review of the physiological, psychological and emotional benefits of dance.

“This was a theoretical approach, so I am delighted to have Andrew here to tap into his practical experience.”

Dr Jola’s chapter, “The dancing queen: Explanatory mechanisms of the ‘feel-good-effect’ in dance” will be included in The Oxford Handbook for Dance and Wellbeing later this year.

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