Dance for Health Conference, Stockholm

An inspiring Dance for Health conference was held November 8-10, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden subsequent to the launch of Dance for Health  at the 29th Annual IADMS (International Association of Dance Medicine and Science) Conference in Montreal. We are proud that D&CW co-director Clare Guss-West, seen here at the launch with fellow committee member with David Leventhal, is serving as chair of the international Dance for Health Committee. Swedish committee member Åsa Åström, dancer, choreographer and teacher, who is head of Dance Health and Community Dance at Balettakademien served wonderfully as Conference host under the auspices of Ballettakademien and Folkuniversitetet.

An opening mingle at Moderna museet offered an opportunity to meet, see dance students and Dance for Parkinson dancers perform and take in the museum exhibition. The conference itself took place over the following two days, with Clare Guss-West lecturing on “Dance and innovation in health promoting care in a European perspective”, tying nicely in with the following lecture on dance and the brain by another Dance for Health committee member; neuroscientist and dancer Dr. Hanna Poikonen on day one. Practical workshops followed, with Clare’s “The power of the imaginary – from research to older adult dance practice” and Hanna’s “WiseMotion: Creative Movement & Neuroscience” getting everyone up and moving. It was an excellent start that had us all looking forward to more input the next day.

Day two explored two Swedish dance projects. Dr Anna Duberg, a reg. physiotherapist in child and adolescent psychiatry, who holds her PhD in Health Sciences, lectured on “Health aspects of dancing for young adults”, describing her work and research in an after-school dance intervention for adolescent girls. Addressing experiences with much older participants, dancer and Professor Rebecca Hilton of Uniarts Stockholm, lectured on “A Dance Residency in a Health Care context”. It was particularly interesting to hear about dance interventions at very different phases of the life-span. The final Dance for Parkinson’s workshop was led by dancer, teacher and physiotherapist Åsa Elowsen together with Åsa Ästrøm, letting everyone have a taste of a session that explores dance as an art form for people living with a neurological disease.

Over 40 enthusiastic participants from all across Scandinavia showed that the grass roots movement linking dance, creativity and health is on the move. The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn, be inspired and network with others. 

– Pauline Hasse, Dance and Creative Wellness Advisory Board