Dance for Connection
Dance for Connection is committed to improving the quality of life for older adults and people with dementia through dance, dance/movement therapy and embodied caregiving by means of direct programming, education and training, supervision, professional writing, advocacy and research.
For over 30 years, dance/movement therapist Donna Newman-Bluestein has gone into institutional settings and spread the joy of movement. She sings and two-steps, greeting everyone by name and shaking hands. But watch her gather nearly two dozen cognitively-impaired seniors into a group circle, disarming them into swaying and bouncing in their wheelchairs, tapping toes and waving arms in time to the music, and her therapeutic skills become brilliantly evident. Newman-Bluestein’s dance engagement is not just fun, but a form of psychotherapy which she has been doing since 1978 with people from 3 to 103 with mental illness, chronic pain, coronary artery disease and dementia. Since 2002, her focus has been exclusively on transforming the culture of care through dance and embodied caregiving for people with dementia whose condition fosters isolation and depression. While some may only be able to muster a nod of the head or a flitter of fingers, few leave her sessions without a smile and a greater sense of community, alertness and well-being.
To motivate a group of people with mid to late stage dementia who were challenging to engage, Donna invented the Octaband® which was so successful, she subsequently manufactured it for worldwide distribution.
Newman-Bluestein is a senior lecturer in Lesley University’s graduate school, trainer, international workshop presenter and speaker, and performer with the intergenerational dance company Back Pocket Dancers.