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Flourish Magazine: Dance, Creativity and Joy by Sam Lawrence

6 Nov 2023

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As part of each issue of Flourish Magazine, we release weekly digital content alongside our free print magazine, on the Artlift and Yes to Life blogs. This is often content we couldn’t fit into the magazine’s limited pages, or film and music, but loved and wanted to show the world.  

This issue of Flourish Magazine was on the theme of ‘Movement’, with submissions from those living with or beyond cancer received through an open call for creative responses to the theme.  

In this week’s digital content Sam Lawrence, founder of Dance Centred CIC, writes about their creative dance project Move Together in Newquay, which offers women affected by cancer dance sessions that reconnect them to the joy of movement.

Read the print magazine online for free here, and watch this space for more digital content!

Dance, Creativity and Joy by Sam Lawrence
Move Together – Dance for women affected by cancer 

I am Co-Director of Dance Centred CIC – A Cornwall based dance company specialising in delivering creative dance opportunities within health and well-being contexts. Move Together is a creative dance project in Newquay which began with a pilot (funded by Active Cornwall) in April 2022 and provides women affected by cancer – at any stage of their cancer experience – the chance to come together with a shared experience of cancer and rediscover the joy of moving and being creative. 

Working in partnership with local Social Prescribing teams, our pilot project identified a real need for this type of provision, and the importance of it being free of charge at point of access for participants – acknowledging the variety of ways having cancer can cause economic disadvantage. Participants valued the person-centred approach and it helped them to keep attending and reap the benefits, even on bad health days. 

Weekly women-only sessions enable participants to create deep and meaningful connections in a local setting in a way treatment-focused provision cannot. They report feeling safe and free from judgment. The sessions not only have a positive impact on overall physical activity levels, but also rest and mindfulness activities. 

“I feel more positive and inspired to move more and embrace my creativity more” 

“I am much happier, my mood has lifted. I feel more confident and energised. I just feel a whole lot better.” 

“We get to lose ourselves in dance” 

Fun, playfulness, dancing and creative reflection give participants a new identity to focus on; a creative, moving being.  

The focus on creativity and dance means that participants move for their own benefit, with a sense of agency, empowerment and acceptance. Everyone in the room is welcomed as a creative being and a dancer. In our creative reflections the dominant themes that emerge are joy and acceptance.  

“I can take the sessions at my own pace, and the group allows me to feel okay about that and supported. They give me energy, even if I have none before the session.” 

For those whose movement is becoming more limited as a result of their advancing cancer, the sessions have enabled them to be more mindful in their movement.  For some, the Move Together sessions are the extra support and motivation needed to move more. Others report feeling able to move more and extend the number of ways they are being active. 

Interestingly others reported resting better. Feeling calmer and being able to sleep without medication. Many have said the sessions help them manage their pain. 

“I feel safer to be present in my body. I feel energised and alive” 

Whilst some have said that they considered not attending due to tiredness, pain and so on, they were glad they came, and felt better for moving. Because of the acceptance and inclusivity of the sessions they felt able to attend regardless of feeling unwell. There is shared acceptance that it’s okay not to be okay. 

Further funding from National Lottery Awards for All has enabled the continuity of the sessions and has deepened the experience of the group and the relationships formed. The women have developed in skills and confidence and are more able to take risks. They also play an active part in shaping the sessions and advocating on behalf of the project.  

We are delighted to have received funding from the People’s Health Trust to develop the project further; building our links with local health professionals, strengthening the informal support networks which have grown out of the sessions and enabling more women to take part. 

“You’ve brought my smile back.”  

Find out more about Move Together here: