Move Dance Feel is centred around artistic practice, where women come together to dance instead of talk about their cancer experience.
The project is currently running in London, and between April 2018 and April 2019 will be available to women in three different Cancer Support Centres across the city (East, Central and South West).
The project provides:
- An alternative means of group support, where participants can find a physical outlet for expression, not reliant on the verbal
- An inclusive and positive learning environment, where participants discover new movement in the body and share creative ideas
- A fun means of being physically active
- A group setting in which participants can relate to one another, often resulting in new and supportive friendships
- A holistic means of empowering women through dance, where participants find freedom in their bodies and confidence in their abilities
Practical experience and research relating to dance, cancer and wellbeing has revealed compelling demand for this work, yet currently there’s limited provision. Furthermore, physical activity is known to aid cancer recovery, reducing negative side effects and preventing re-occurrence.
“Move Dance Feel has provided a wonderful outlet for self expression and creativity, which I have found to be very healing.” (Participant)
Reported side effects from cancer treatment include tension, weight changes, pain, restricted movement, severe fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression, fear, low self-esteem, disturbances in body image, and many more ill health factors.
Whilst all cancers are hard to bear, common cancers that affect women can be incredibly invasive with treatments causing complex repercussions. Procedures can involve the removal of reproductive organs and bring about radical changes to the body. What dance offers in this context is a means of returning to the body and reclaiming control, taking back ownership and in the process reigniting lost connections.
“When you have cancer, you lose touch with your body. It becomes unfamiliar - even worse, it starts to feel as if it is an enemy. For me, dancing started to bring me back to my own body and its energy, strength and basic joyfulness.” (Participant)
Who is behind Move Dance Feel? Emily Jenkins works in a capacity that develops dance in the wider cultural sector, delivering dance sessions as well as creating participatory projects. She is specialised in Community Dance, and strives to take the art form into unexplored contexts where it has potential to affect significant change. Much of her work is alongside participants who face social isolation or life limiting illness which has led her to deliver in a range of arts, health and community settings.
Emily has witnessed the devastating effects that cancer can bring to people’s lives, and how it can be consuming both physically and spiritually. In noticing a lack of support available for people post cancer treatment, as they are deemed to be ‘cured’, Emily set up Move Dance Feel (in 2016) to address this need.
“The last two years have been quite a struggle and very challenging, but having come to the classes I have made lovely friends and I’ve laughed and smiled, which I feel has been very good for my wellbeing” (Participant)
Penny Greenland, What Dancers Do that Healthworkers Don’t, 2000
“For dance isn’t a particular way of moving, it’s a frame of mind. Or perhaps a frame of body-mind. A way of being that reveals, affects and even changes how we feel about ourselves and each other.”
Move Dance Feel is currently Crowdfunding, please donate what you can to enable more women to access dance during and after cancer treatment: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/move-dance-feel
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Do you have skills that could benefit this project? Get in touch and see how you can lend a hand.