Dance to Health

Photography: Adam Holloway

Dance to Health, Phase 1 National Roll-out 2017 to 2019
AESOP have secured a £2.3m investment to establsh Phase 1 of a national roll-out programme. Following a successful pilot project in 2015/16 where Cheshire Dance was one of 3 founding Dance Partners, it is intended that Cheshire Dance will deliver 6 Improvement Programmes across Cheshire West as part of Phase 1, that transition into 3 groups of older dancers as part of an ongoing maintenance programme. Phase 1 is Cheshire will be delivered in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council's Public Health team.

Dance to Health is a ground-breaking project and we don't say that lightly. Read on to find out why....

Dance to Health responds to the issue of older people’s falls. Falls are traumatic for older people and cost the NHS £2.3 billion per year. On top of this current falls prevention exercise programmes face challenges: patchy provision; older people’s low take-up and adherence; the lack of maintenance classes which means that gains are lost and investment is wasted; a minority of current services are evidence-based and last the required six months.

Dance to Health incorporates two evidence-based falls prevention methodologies, Otago and FaME, (which reduce falls by up to 55%) into high quality dance sessions. It has been shown to be an effective, cost-effective and enjoyable means to reduce older people's falls.

Dance to Health is a national partnership, initiated by AE-SOP with dance partners accross the country. For the pilot Cheshire Dance collaborated with East London Dance and Southeast Dance. For Phase 1, Cheshire Dance will be joined again by Southeast Dance, alongside Yorkshire Dance, National Dance Company Wales, Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Point (Eastleigh) and Dance East. The programme is supported by Later Life Training (FAME and Otago specialists) and a number of national Dialogue Partners

What the participants from the Dance to Health Pilot are saying about the sessions:

“it loosens me up”
“my hips feel better after moving”
“it’s really good for my balance”
“when I arrive I have so many things going through my head and when I leave they have all disappeared. It’s so uplifting”
“ I have noticed I am finding it easier to get out of my chair at home and I care about that,  it’s those things that make a difference”

Successful Pilot
Cheshire Dance delivered two pilots led by fully trained artists Jan Halloran, Rosalind Holgate Smith and Bettina Carpi, alongside four other pilots elsewhere in the country. Supporting partners in Cheshire included AGE UK Cheshire, Cheshire West and Cheshire Council and Wulvern Housing. Pilots involved a minimum of 50 hours of facilitated creative dance activity with an embedded FAME/Otago physio programme.

Dance to Health pilot phase (Summer 2015 to Spring 2016) was supported financially by Arts Council England, City Bridge Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Guy's and St Thomas' Charity and Peter Sowerby Charitable Foundation.

Dance to Health
is being developed by AE-SOP as a sustainable social enterprise. Sidney de Haan will evaluate the process, quality assurance, health/artistic/ social outcomes, alongside studying the health economics, social enterprise modelling and development. Health investment is required for the six month programmes and the early stages of the maintenance programmes. Later, the maintenance programmes will become self-sustaining.

"Very beneficial. Getting out of and back down to my chair is easier and I do it properly."
"I can now crawl with my grandchild."
"I feel stronger."
"I'm walking taller."
"My son has noticed I am telling him what I have done in the dance sessions."

(Deva Point participants, Dance to Health, AE-SOP)

"I tell everyone that my dancing is helping me and I practice at home. You don't make me feel scared to ask for help and you say I can never get it wrong. I don't remember everything anymore but it's ok because I don't have to when I'm dancing. I just enjoy it – it's a god save. I don't feel alone anymore...dancing has given me my confidence back."

(An older dancer, living with Alzheimers, In THIS Moment, Baring Fdn)

If you're interested in this project and want to find out more, whether as an artist, health worker, host or commissioner, please contact:-

Cheshire Dance
For Cheshire general enquiries, hosting or taking part, please call
Jane Atherton on 01606 861770 or email

AESOP Dance to Health Team

For general enquiries
Hosting or Taking part in Dance to Health
- | 07979 060 896
Commissioning Dance to Health
- | 07841 732766

Lead Artist: Jan Halloran. Photography: Adam Holloway




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