Art in Healthcare–Dance and the Hip Op-eration Crew

Check out the video link (here) on how this amazing group from New Zealand made the trip to Las Vegas for the International Hip Hop Dance Competition.

Dancing is valuable for seniors and others with mobility issues.  This group of seniors took that advice seriously and formed their own Hip Hop dance group. Nothing is slowing this group down.  Dance is growing as a way of promoting healthy safe moving in the healthcare environment.  And one thing is very clear: dancing is fun!  What could be more motivating?

Dance movement is proving to be a valuable tool for people with Parkinson’s disease.  The Dance for PD organization is growing nationwide.  The research is showing the process of dancing can change the way people with Parkinson’s are able to move.  The Brooklyn Parkinson Group joined the Mark Morris Dance Group to develop dance moves directed toward specific mobility issues for people with Parkinson’s.  Dance for PD and the Morris dance Group have workshops, seminars and more to help other groups get on board.

Dance in Healthcare, like Art in Healthcare, should not be confused with Dance Therapy.  For more on the difference between Art Therapy and Artists in Healthcare see a previous post (here).  Columbia College of Chicago has a description on the Graduate blog, Marginalia.  Dance Therapists, like Art Therapists, are equipped to deal with emotional issues, as well as dance.  Follow the link to the website for more information.

Dance is another way artists are helping people live more fulfilling lives.  Judging by the Hip Op-eration Crew, they are having a blast.  Even those of us with two left feet may be able to join this happy crowd.  So get your dancing shoes out and start dancing for the health of it.

A Magical Place

If these shadows we have offended,

think but this and all is mended,

That you have but slumbered here,

While these visions did appear

—Shakespeare,  A Midsummer Night’s DreamScreen shot 2013-10-28 at 10.46.29 PM

“The place where the fairies danced” was how my great aunt described a quiet spot in the woods she knew.  She was in her eighties.  I was around six or seven.  The fairies supposedly came out after the rain and danced under the green canopies of the may-apple plants.  Aunt Sade called this place Gladey Hollow.  A huge old Beech tree marked the entrance to Gladey Hollow.   As we walked along in the woods, my aunt could name just about every wildflower and bird.  She walked with a cane, using it to point out each plant and bird as we walked.  I wish now I could remember more of them.

Images I had in my child’s mind of fairies were from the whimsical illustrations depicting flowers as fairies.  I searched and searched in Gladey Hollow but never could see the little woodland creatures. Still I believed they were there.  If Aunt Sade said they were there, then they were there.  Maybe she actually saw them.

Do artists, who paint fairies and other mythical beings, actually see the creatures?  How do they come up with these lovely illustrations?  Either they have seen the little folk or they have wonderfully vivid imaginations.  I’d like to think they have actually seen the fairies flying around in the woods like Tinkerbell.  It could be interesting to find out!

Over the years, Aunt Sade led many people on excursions into the woods for picnics and stories about the little folk.  One poet/ artist wrote a poem illustrated in an ink wash painting.  In the illustration, the artist has made the poem look like it was carved into the old beech tree:

Have you ever watched the fairies

When the rain is done?

Spreading out their little wings

to dry them

in the sun.


Have you ever heard the fairies

All among the limes–

Singing little fairy tunes

to little fairy rimes.


Have you ever seen the fairies

dancing in the air–

And running off behind the stars

To tidy up their hair?


I have.  For I’ve been there–


Miss Sade’s

“Gladey Hollow”

Author: C.E.A.

 Evidently, this guy saw them.

Dancing Neurons

When starting to paint, I always have an image in my head that I want to come out on the canvas.  It never does.  My hand must have its own brain.  Or the neurons bumping around in my brain go haywire before they reach my hand.  What appears under my hand is usually something wildly different from the original thought.  However, this strange hand brain makes some fun things happen.  Maybe my neurons start to dance before they reach my hand.  My hand does its own dance on the canvas to some unknown tune my brain can’t hear.  If I let go and permit the haywire neurons to continue the happy hand dance, my creation begins to take flight and become free.

However, if I fight the crazy neurons in my hands and work on something more controlled, it loses the spontaneity that gives a painting life and energy.  The painting may become more true to form but has no spark..  A person commented on one of my paintings, where the dancing neurons made the hand paint a red lake instead of the more controlled and average blue-green of most lakes.  This person said she didn’t think she had ever seen the lake in question look red.  My thought was, “Of course not!  You have to have dancing neurons to turn a blue-green lake red.”  And why have a blue-green lake when you can have a red one?  The red lake has life!

Houston artist, Alissa Fereday tweets some wonderful daily quotes on her twitter site, @ITweetart.  Today’s quote is attributed to the Swiss artist, Paul Klee.  Klee states, “The painter should not paint what he sees, but what will be seen.”  I may see a blue-green lake but a red one will be seen when the dancing neurons take control of the painting hand.

The hard part is to continue to allow the neurons the freedom to transmit dance to the painting hand.  Resist control.  Dance on!!!


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