5 Minutes with Move Dance Feel | Your Cancer Services
24 May 2021 - by David Allen
Dancing has served people for centuries as not only a form of exercise, but an activity of joy, and for those living with cancer, it’s no exception.
Move Dance Feel is dedicated to promoting the health benefits of dance for women living with or beyond cancer, including those caring for someone with cancer or bereaved by cancer. We spoke to the team to find out more.
Tell us about your organisation?
Move Dance Feel began in London in 2016, then expanded to Bristol in 2019 and developed an online programme in 2020, which has enabled us to broaden our reach.
We are a very small team of Dance Artists, led by Move Dance Feel Founder and Director Emily Jenkins, who work in partnership with cancer support organisations and collaborate with a handful of creative freelancers.
This Spring marks our 5 year anniversary! In 5 years we have:
Danced with over 700 women, plus 300 friends and family members
Worked in partnership with 4 cancer support centres
Conducted 4 research studies
Presented findings at 27 national and international events
Made 5 films
Built a website
Trained 10 dance artists
Worked alongside 16 cancer care professionals
Developed an online programme
What services do you offer people living with cancer?
We provide creative, collaborative and joyful dance activity specifically designed to enhance participant wellbeing and offer holistic support.
Our activities include regular dance sessions or courses (in person and digitally), as well as specific performance projects or outreach projects. The company also conducts research and disseminates findings, highlighting the benefits of dance in this context, and provides mentoring and training opportunities.
Do you have a target demographic who use your services?
Yes, we are a company led by women for women – with any type of cancer, at any stage in their cancer experience (pre, during or post treatment).
How are you funded?
Move Dance Feel is a registered Community Interest Company (CIC), reliant on public funding and the support of the community to keep our activities going. We are committed to offering free or ‘pay what you can’ opportunities for women in need.
How have things changed for you since COVID-19?
In March 2020, when Covid-19 forced our partner centres to close, we developed Move Dance Feel Online – offering regular dance sessions virtually through Zoom.
Where provision has normally been restricted to London and Bristol, the locations of our partner centres, we can now reach women virtually all over the UK and have even connected with women in other parts of Europe too. A number of participants have commented that they prefer the online offering as they can take part from the comfort of their own home and ‘let go’, not feeling self conscious about being watched or challenged by the prospect of travel to/from a session which can be tiring. What’s more, we are able to reach women in remote rural areas who live far away from any centres to connect with.
Interestingly our attendance figures are higher than ever before, and in addition to engaging our existing community we have registered over 100 new participants. Reasons for such a positive response to Move Dance Feel Online are provided by participants below:
‘I experienced an opening up – a healing valuable release.’
‘It really did feel good to dance with someone else even though it was virtual.’
‘Absolutely wonderful. My range of movement has expanded and my repertoire of dance possibilities too.’
‘I love the sessions, they are the highlight of my week! They lift my mood so much.’
‘The power of the group is really special.’
What’s the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
As you can see from the above comments the most rewarding aspect of our work is understanding the difference Move Dance Feel makes in people’s lives. Learning in what ways, and to what extent, dance can help people who are living with our beyond cancer. The benefits appear to be limitless, providing much needed physical, mental, emotional and social support, through a creative medium that just makes people feel good.
What would you say to those who are considering getting in touch with you but are nervous or apprehensive?
You’ll never know if you don’t try! We are a welcoming and friendly group of women, who have an in-depth understanding of the challenges associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment. Move Dance Feel is a place where you can be yourself, however you might be feeling that day, and feed off the energy of a caring community. We gather to dance, not talk about cancer, and explore ways of moving that help us to feel more connected – individually to ourselves and collectively with others.
Do you have testimonials from people that have used your services?
‘It makes me feel the absolute joy of being alive!’
‘My first class and I am so grateful to you for these. The first time that I have felt in control of my body since my surgery.’
‘Before the class I was feeling cold, tense and down, but as we warmed up and danced my circulation increased, my energy flowed, I started to feel more connected with the other dancers, and I felt a lovely physical expansion leading to a happy mood.’
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