Movement, dance and dementia resources

We want to help all of the people in the Centre of Excellence network and visitors to our website have access to the most current information and resources on movement, dance and dementia. In this section you’ll find a selection of resources on the latest industry trends and best practices to help you enhance the care you offer.

  • Dance movement psychotherapy information (national and international)
  • Papers
  • Advice and ideas

Dance movement psychotherapy information (national and international)

Take a look at the work of Ali Schechter, R-DMT and LCAT based in New York. Here is her article of what the USA call dance therapy and what we call DMT. The name changes depending on where you are in the world, the nature of work, the techniques and skills used and the individuals that participate. These all play a part in what is recognisable across national and international boundaries.

Look out for some up to date references and a poem.


A selection of papers about using movement and dance with people with dementia. If you would like to share a paper on this page, please contact us at

  • Please see this link to one of my recent publications on my dance therapy approach in dementia care. I applied a multiple-baseline single case methodology. Glad to contribute to the empirical evidence of dance as a psychosocial intervention to improve behaviour and mood.” Dr Azucena Guzman, PhD, MRes, CPsychol, Lecturer in Health & Ageing, British Academy Fellow, University of Edinburgh.
  • Thanks to Heather from Melbourne for the link to the below. Looks like an important contribution to the field. – Dr Richard.Dear friends and colleagues,
    It has arrived. My latest book: Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming.
    This book is about dance. Sort of. It is really about being human.
    Why We Dance locates dance at the heart of humankind as an enabling source, and thus provides ways of appreciating the nearly infinite variety of dance styles and forms occurring in human life.
    It does not offer a history or comparative study of dance traditions. It is a thought experiment, conducted in dynamic interaction with many movement experiments.
    It draws on current research from a range of disciplines to tell stories of matter, evolution, knowledge, birth, ethics, healing, religion, and culture–all according to dance. In the process, it offers a visionary definition of what dance has been and has the potential to be.
    Each chapter features an experiential frame that both enacts and weaves through the argument. The style is accessible; the implications far-reaching.
    Why We Dance is written for those who know they dance, and those who are sure they do not. It is written for scholars and practitioners across the fields of religion, philosophy, dance, anthropology, psychology, and cultural and performance studies who are interested in questions of bodily life, movement, practice, performance, and ritual.
    It is written for anyone who has ever wondered: Why dance?
    Amazon link to look inside the book
    An author interview on the Columbia University Press blog.
    A blog about the book for Psychology Today.
    More information about the book, as well as a place you can use the promotional code LAMWHY1 for a 30% discount.
    Form for faculty members to order an exam copy.
    Thank you so much for reading! I hope you are very well.
    Sending best wishes to all,
    Kimerer LaMothe – philosopher and dancer
  • A really inspirational paper by Dr Anni Raw has been published in Animated (see below for credit). It links into the need for us as DMPs to better consider the processes at work in our profession and I think this paper makes an important contribution to the arts therapies and arts and health field. Many thanks to Anni for allowing this to go out on this network nationally and internationally and to her suggestion she could come out to you and talk about it/present on the subject if you were interested. For those of you interested in the work of Etienne Wenger and Communities of Practice work, this is of particular interest as well.
    This article, first published in the March 2015 edition of Animated magazine, is reproduced by permission of People Dancing. All Rights Reserved. See for more information.
  • Article on using the arts to boost the nation’s health – The Observer, 28 December 2014.
  • Moving from Problem to Potential – Filipa Pereira Stubbs’ report on ‘Dance and Wellness in the US’ based on her recent Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in America.
  • Minutes from the roundtable on the Care Act: commissioning arts and culture to deliver wellbeing on November 5th – The meeting was well attended and had a stimulating exchange of information and ideas. There were contributions from the Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Chair of the APPG on Wellbeing Economics, who summarised the report Wellbeing in Four Policy Areas and from Helen Goodman MP, who stressed the importance of working with commissioners to make the case for the value of arts and culture to health and wellbeing. Valerie Little, formerly Director of Public Health for Dudley, reflected on a decade of using arts to develop public health improvement programmes.Trust chief executive Steven Michael OBE also talked about their Creative Minds programme in partnership with 70 creative partners including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield, and John Nawrockyi, Director of Health and Adult Social Care for the Royal Borough of Greenwich presented the future scenario in which Local Authorities will move away from traditional contracting and procurement to arranging services and facilitating the use of personal budgets, and the opportunities this will provide for the arts and cultural sector.Dr Justin Varney, National Lead for Adult Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, gave an update on the evidence review on arts and health commissioned by DOH following our APPG Officers’ meeting with the Secretary of State for Health in July.The next step for the APPG Officers is a meeting with Dr Justin Varney on December 15th.
  • There Are Songs Still To Be Sung – A report by Bisakha Sarker on her WCMT Fellowship.  The Fellowship scheme is currently open to those working in the arts with older people who would benefit from international travel. You must be a British Citizen. If you are interested in a Fellowship visit the WCMT website.
  • Embodiment and Dementia: Dance movement psychotherapists respond – Dr Richard Coaten is pleased to announce that the editorial he and Donna Newman-Bluestein (a Dance Movement Therapist from Boston, USA) co-authored has been  included in a major international peer-reviewed journal on dementia. The pair are beating the drum for the importance of Dance Movement Psychotherapy in the dementia field, following a whole previous edition of ‘Dementia: International Journal of Social Research and Practice’, devoted to the subject of ‘embodiment’ and dementia. This should prove of particular interest to anyone researching in the DMP and dementia field.
  • Culture, Health and Wellbeing – This was the largest arts and health event in the country in 2013. Take a look at the inspiring film and report for another take on the current arts and health ‘zeitgeist’ here and abroad.
  • Fleeting moments – Dr Richard Coaten contributed his reflections on Chaturangan Dance Company’s ‘Fleeting Moments’ project that took place at the Bluecoat in Liverpool in February 2013. Here it is reported in ‘Pulse, the Journal of South Asian Music and Dance’ with beautiful photography (p18-19). Thanks to Bisakha Sarker for conceiving and directing such a wonderful event that has subsequently been repeated again this past September also at the Bluecoat. Read her reflections on ‘In search of a late style’ and her travels in Canada on a Winston Churchill Fellowship’ (p20-21).
    Dancing as a psychosocial intervention in care homes: a systematic review of the literature
  • Expecting the Unexpected: Improvisation in Arts-Based Research, Stephen K. Levine
  • Legitimising playfulness and meaningful improvisation with care home residents with dementia. PHD project
  • The Journal of Dementia Care, January/ February 2013- Capturing progress in creative arts and dementia journal
  • Workshop proves a moving experience, Jersey Evening Post, August 2012 (PDF)
  • The Power of Song, The Guardian, April 2012 Read this article on The Guardian website about how music is giving people with dementia the opportunity for their real personality to shine.
  •  Journal of Dementia Care, September/October 2010 An article in the Journal of Dementia Care sought to explain what dance therapy means for people with dementia, and the role it can play as an integral part of person-cantered care. For more information visit the Journal of Dementia Care website.
  • Feminism and Psychology, Gail Hornstein

Advice and ideas

Advice and ideas about using movement and dance with people with dementia.

Theory and practice in dementia care presentation

Evidence that may help to support funding for dance and dementia work – Reawakening the Mind: Evaluation of Arts 4 Dementia’s London Arts Challenge in 2012: Arts interventions to re-energise and inspire people in the early stages of dementia and their carers. As Fergus Early and Bisakha Sarker point out, all guidance given within the report is for experienced dance workshop leaders.

Carers noted that participants in the early stages of dementia remained energised, stress-free, happy, for up to a week after A4D dance sessions! 93% overnight, 86% for 3 days, 79% for a week or more. Those with dementia reported that: 94% felt better, 88% felt they were reviving creative skills, 87% felt more confident, 82% recognised they were developing new skills, 94% felt more energetic, 80% were keener to socialise (some had not lost their sociability).

Props for sessions

The range of props that you can use is wide, and should be informed by what might interest, engage and support the development of movement and dance practices for older people. Richard advises you to think about getting a budget to purchase them, some kind of bag to store them in and a cupboard to lock them in after use – otherwise they go missing and no-one knows where they went to!

Oxfam and other charity shops are a great source for music, scarves, hats and so on. Try your local market for two-inch wide elastic. 8-10 metres is a useful length. Jabadao ( sells props and materials and is a good source of ideas. You can also find equipment in the Nottingham Rehab and ROMPA catalogues.

Prop ideas:

  • Scarves – light, colourful, smooth to the touch
  • Feathers – colourful… ostrich or pheasant feathers work well
  • Circles of elastic – see above for length.  Cheapest is two-inch elastic from your local market, but you could also consider Octaband.
  • Large pieces of cloth, including stretchy lycra.  Can be 3 or 4 metres long, or a square of lycra big enough to stretch across the group.  Parachutes are great if you can get them.
  • Balloons – I like to use large ones made of quite thick rubber which does not puncture so easily.  They are around £5 each and 3 or 4 foot diameter is a good size.
  • Fans – large and small ones
  • Balls – a variety of sizes and types including feely balls, koosh balls etc.
  • Floating Bubbles – I use a product called Touchabubble (non toxic) which works well – available from toyshops
  • Hats – always good to have a selection of men’s and women’s hats from various eras

Music for sessions

Professor Dawn Brooker presented the following ideas at a conference in Leeds. Dawn is currently Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester. She suggests making the connection between a person’s current age and what they might have listened to when they were in their 20s.  For example, the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band always go down well inYorkshire!

Richard likes to use a wide variety of music of all styles and genres including world music. New technology means that you can download CDs onto MP3 players and make custom playlists for a particular group on a particular theme. He also uses Klezmer, Argentinian Tango, Rock and Roll, Folk, Country and Western, Flamenco, Music Hall, Egyptian (Middle Eastern), Jazz and so on.  However, Richard tends not to use classical music, but he has it available in case anyone wants it.  Find music that you like personally and can engage well with as well as music that you think may appeal to older people and start with that.

Richard also like to use live music wherever possible to encourage musicality and rhythm and listening skills. It is always best to get good quality instruments, including percussion instruments, from a reputable music shop.  If you play an instrument yourself, bring it along to sessions and use it.