The Octaband® a connector of people and neurons
Yesterday was an exciting day for dance in Cambridge, MA. Back Pocket Dancers performed for a very appreciative audience which broke out in spontaneous applause at several moments during Octabandance at Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Dance for World Community Festival. Maybe you can guess which moments they were.
After performing the dance, we invited the audience of adults and children to come on stage and play with the Octaband®. To the first song, we simply improvised, playing with the Octaband® and one another. After the first song, I asked people to each lead us, one at a time, showing us how they wanted to use the Octaband®. Some of the children were as young as 4 y.o. and not everyone spoke or understood English. We jumped and twirled, wound in and out, rocked and swung. A rousing applause went up at the end.
A short time later, 2 young men, perhaps Harvard University students, came up and were quite effusive about how astounded they were by the Octaband®. The spokesperson for the two told me that they were discussing how fertile the Octaband was as a metaphor. I asked how so. He said that his friend saw the Octaband® as a connector between people, building community. He saw the Octaband® as a tool for brain connections. How cool that together they saw in the Octaband® what I have seen. Initially, I created the Octaband® to connect people. But since I’ve been using it, and watched how others have used it around the world, with so many different populations, and also specifically with people with dementia, I have grown to understand that the Octaband® also looks like a neuron. As we use the Octaband®, moving it with self motivation, novelty, and surprise, we are building new neurons and neuronal pathways.
I was thrilled to be joined by dance/movement therapists Leah Brett, president of the N.E. chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association, and Suzanne Eagan-Beverly, on Advocacy Way, as we advocated for dance/movement therapy (#50years#50ways) and I also promoted Dance for Connection.
Since Dance for Connection is all about dance with older adults and people with dementia, I was thrilled to discover this 5 minute video, Get Rhythm, by Jerome Whittingham with dance artists Lottie Hanson and Tamar Draper which gives an idea about what dance with people with dementia looks like and also shows the Octaband® in use from 2:06 to 2:20. Of course, no two groups with people with dementia ever look quite the same, and each of us leads in our own way. From :57 – 1:15, you can also see my dear friend and colleague, dance/movement psychotherapist Richard Coaten with whom I will be co-leading a workshop during the September 9-11 EADMT (European Association of Dance Movement Therapists) conference in Milan.