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Animated Edition - Spring 2005
From the editor
Ken Bartlett, Creative Director, Foundation for Community Dance
This issue of Animated is the first of two to look at the contributions dance can make to the health and well-being of individuals and communities. When 'health' is mentioned - very often in isolation from the notion of well-being - one often conjures up images of illness or health 'deficit'- as is ironically shown on this issue's cover. But what about health as a positive issue rather than an illness issue, and how does dance relate to that?

The Foundation for Community Dance believes that the five areas of health and well-being in which dance and dance professionals are making a contribution are:
  • Health education: offering insights and information to enable people to make choices about how they live
  • Care: activities designed to support people who are getting better or who need extra help to manage an ongoing condition
  • Managing illness: working to support people who are actually ill and seeking to get better
  • Community development: initiatives designed to build the environments and social networks that are the basis of good health; to reduce and eliminate poverty
  • New ways to live: guiding people to new ways of viewing themselves and their health.
The testimony of the other articles by artists and participants reflects this range of work, but what is clear from all of them is that dance is a unique way into health and well-being;that it is not just a fitness regime, it is not about 'no gain without pain'. This is fundamentally because of the underpinning values of the people developing the work - about constructive and creative engagement in success for everyone - working from the premise that everyone has a talent and is gifted in their own way. This is well described in the article by Jeremy Spafford, a participant in an adult community dance group,as 'a commitment to artistic integrity and a celebratory inclusive style'.

This issue offers a wealth of evidence about the contributions community dance is making to health and well-being, and Mike White offers a framework for evaluation that could help us. Penny Greenland calls for a clearer articulation of practice, either as a 'general practitioner' or a 'specialist', which is initiated and defined by dance practitioners. Minister for the Arts, Estelle Morris interviewed by Scilla Dyke, asks how can we build up the evidence base for community dance and its benefits, helping us to create a more coherent buy-in by other government departments.

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Animated: Spring 2005