Sing and Dance for Life

In 2010 Srishti Yuva Culture ran the very successful Bharatanatyam: Dance Through Time project for young people, supported by Harrow Council.  In 2011 Srishti Yuva Culture has been successful in acquiring funding from Harrow Council to offer Sing and Dance For Life, a new programme of work to further the group's aims, by working with another age group, elderly people, on a project with different objectives, thereby extending the skills of Srishti Yuva Culture's volunteers.

The workshops for Sing and Dance for Life use gentle movement based on Bharatanatyam dance and the raga concept of Karnatic music.

Sing and Dance for Life
has two key aims: to support learning and participation in physical activity amongst older people in the borough, and to support the continued training and professional development of the Yuva volunteers in the development of their teaching skills by providing training and volunteer experience in the particular needs of older people.

The project unfolds in two stages. In the first stage, the volunteers work with Srishti's professional staff to develop a series of Bharatanatyam-based movement phrases suitable for older people, adapted as chair-based movement where necessary for those with disabilities.  These are designed to develop over a number of weeks to allow older participants to develop physical skills safely and progressively.  Similarly, voice-based exercises are developed, focussing on melodies known to promote positive emotions for mental well-being.

Aided by Srishti’s professional staff, the volunteers are involved in the delivery of workshops to lunch clubs, residential homes and older people's community groups in Harrow, combining these with short, informal performances by the volunteers, allowing access by older people to high-quality performances.  This provides recreational enjoyment to which participants may otherwise not have access.

Each series of workshops culminates in a short informal sharing by the participants.  In this way, an enhanced appreciation of this cultural activity promotes understanding and tolerance within the community of Harrow.

Participants of similar dance projects for older people run by various organisations all over the UK have reported a wide variety of benefits including improved circulation, increased flexibility and improved balance - all of which can help to prevent injury and illness and allow mobility and independence. Such participants also reported improved physical and emotional self-awareness, a greater sense of self-confidence, increased energy and willingness to get out and about, and even improved sleep.

Depression and other mental illnesses are common amongst older people.  The therapeutic nature of music is known to produce calming effects, at the very least.  Indian dance and music are closely interwoven, and the natural combination of the two produces multiple benefits to participants of this project.
Srishti Yuva Culture aims to prepare young dancers for a professional career, and this project will further develop our volunteers with advanced teaching skills of dance and music by developing their expertise in a new area, thus enabling them to pass on their knowledge to a wider range of people. 

Srishti as an organisation is committed to having positive impacts on the local community. We run a continuing community education programme throughout the year. Following the project, workshop participants who wish to continue pursuing their dance or music interests would also be welcome to our regular adult classes run at the Harrow Arts Centre.

Srishti is grateful for the support of University of the Third Age and Age UK.

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