Meet the Team – Neil Maya from The Drat Pack

Neil Maya: band leader and saxophonist with the Drat Pack for Tea Dance with a twist

I have had the pleasure of being band leader and saxophonist with the Drat Pack www.thedratpack.co.uk for these wonderful tea dances.

My role as band leader is to liaise with Plymouth Dance to provide the most appropriate live music for the tea dances from the Drat Pack. Generally we find a mix of older styles such as foxtrots, quicksteps, waltzes and cha cha chas alongside some modern pop as well as soul and motown appeals to the broad cross section of society that comes to these dances. The Drat Pack currently works with 4 different singers on this project so I also have to liaise with the singers to make sure we can all provide the right material for the dances. My role as saxophonist is a lot more straight forward for me in that I just have to make sure I know the tunes and horn lines for all the tunes we are doing and then play well!

We’ve all loved working for the tea dances. It has given us exposure that we wouldn’t otherwise have had, allowed us to play music we wouldn’t necessarily have played normally, work with different singers, experience some lovely dancing and meet lovely people from all walks of life. It does of course also allow us to work as musicians which is what we all love doing.

Neil Maya www.neilmaya.co.uk

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Who are Plymouth Dance?

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So, who are the Plymouth Dance team?

We currently have 5 Directors: Adam Benjamin, Jules Laville, Maryam Pourian, Tim Tod and Kane John Mills.

The Directors meet 3 to 4 times a year and the Directors meet additionally to discuss and make specific financial or strategic decisions.

The Plymouth Dance Management Team is led by myself as Coordinating Producer and the team expands and contracts, depending on the number of projects that we are working on. So, currently, Kaitlyn Howlett, Chloe Brown and Martha Scholefield are Project Coordinators, Laura Henry is the Corporate Development Coordinator. We all work on a freelance basis and work part time (varying from 1 day a month to 3 days a week).

What does Plymouth Dance do?

Vision

To engage people and communities within Plymouth with the transformational power of dance.

Mission statement

Plymouth Dance aims to connect, create and celebrate dance in the City by delivering citywide partnership projects that use dance as a vehicle for individual, cultural, organisational and social change.

The 2 strategic areas of development are currently:

  • Education & Engagement (including Dance & Health)
  • Professional Development (Capacity Building)

We create and deliver the most exciting, innovative and accessible dance offer for our community. So many people don’t have access to the transformational benefits of dance as part of their everyday life: such as the freedom to create; the opportunity to improve mental, physical and emotional health and well-being, whilst decreasing social isolation and exclusion. We know that it’s vital that more people and communities have opportunities to watch, be part of and perform dance.

 

Current Projects

Tea Dances with a Twist!

Between June 2016 and September 2019, we will have delivered 28 ‘Tea Dance with a Twist!’ events at the iconic civic building, Plymouth Guildhall and 5 events for and at Drake’s Circus Shopping Centre, Tavistock Town Hall, Plymouth Indoor Market, Westward Housing and RESPECT Festival 2018.

TDT is an intergenerational, inclusive dance and social event that is primarily for participants over 50 and accessible for people who are in a wheelchair and/or living with Autism, Dementia, Alzheimers or Parkinsons.

TDT aims to deliver a regular fun, social dance event that enables attenders to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, whilst decreasing loneliness, social isolation and social exclusion.

At each event, an average of 110 people attend (maximum number 142) with an age range of between 3.5 weeks and 104 years of age, 30% being male and 25% being veterans, carers and/or dependents of veterans. Currently, we have a register of 935+.

TDT is currently funded by Arts Council England, Plymouth City Council Crowdfunder, Devon Community Foundation, local Councillors Community Grants and Tesco Bags for Help, with support in kind from Plymouth CityBus and Cornish Tea.

 

Nancy Astor Tea Dance with a Twist! on The Hoe

On Sunday, 26th May 2019, between 1.00pm and 4.00pm, there will be live music provided by The Drat Pack and dancing, led by the Plymouth Dance Tea Dance with a Twist! dancers and volunteers.

The event has been commissioned to celebrate the successful fundraising campaign for the creation and erection of a statue of Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat in Parliament in 1919.

“The people of Plymouth have danced during the darkest days of war. They will dance here again in peace on a Hoe which overlooks a city which has been planned for them, for a wider, freer, healthier, and more prosperous life.”  Waldorf Astor

 

BITESIZED Tea Dances with a Twist! in care homes and residential settings

We have been awarded a National Lottery Community Grant for an 8 month dance project in 10 care homes and residential settings that will provide residents, staff, friends and family with the opportunity to connect with others, participate in fun, accessible sessions and improve their mental, physical and emotional health and well-being, within a friendly environment.

 

Plymouth Dance Volunteer Training Programme

The programme exists to offer people in the city the chance to access a wide range of training and skill sharing opportunities and build a skill-set relevant for work within the arts.

Through volunteering with Plymouth Dance you can:

  • Get involved in arts based projects and events
  • Attend training delivered by specialists within the arts
  • Develop your skills and interests through our volunteering opportunities
  • Gain references and a certificate recognizing the time you have given

For more information, please email volunteering@plymouthdance.org.uk

 

International Inclusive Dance Summer Intensive with Adam Benjamin

We are excited to be presenting the third week long International Inclusive Summer Intensive with renowned dance maker Adam Benjamin. Hosted by Plymouth Dance and supported by Dance in Devon, this year, the Summer Intensive will be at the University of Exeter.

 

Plymouth Dance Membership Scheme

Membership Schemehttps://membermojo.co.uk/plymouthdance.

Plymouth Dance has four memberships available, ranging from £1 to £6 a month:

  • Tier 1– Social Media Only (Facebook, Twitter and Mailchimp detailing dance opportunities)
  • Tier 2 – Social Media, 20% discount on workshops and one meeting with a member of Plymouth Dance/ June Gamble; regarding career/project development/G4A.
  • Tier 3– Social Media, 20% discount on workshops and two meetings with a member of Plymouth Dance/ June Gamble; regarding career/project development/G4A.
  • Student– Social Media Only (Free or discounted student places for masterclasses and workshops that occur at Plymouth University are already in place separate from this membership.)

 

For more information regarding Plymouth Dance, please visit www.plymouthdance.org.uk or email admin@plymouthdance.org.uk

The Plymouth Dance Business Plan and other reports can be found on http://www.plymouthdance.org.uk/about-us

Meet the Team – Stacey Fowler

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I have worked on Tea Dance With A Twist! since the very first event in 2016, first as a student practitioner and then as a trainee practitioner. I have thoroughly enjoyed, learned, progressed and being inspired from every single event. 

I look forward to Tea Dance With A Twist! every month because no two events are the same and neither are the people you’ll meet, mingle and dance with. The intergenerational community event is a live dance and music Tea Dance aimed for the over 50s. It is a lovely feeling leaving the Guildhall at the end of a Saturday knowing people have danced, sung, laughed and enjoyed some new company; involving themselves in a very unique and fun event with a welcoming atmosphere. 

I have personally gained so much from Tea Dance With A Twist! over the last 3 years. Not only have I gained qualifications and training in ‘Dance for Dementia’ and ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’ but I have progressed in my social dance community practice from a University student to a full-time dance community practitioner. The event facilitates for a range of ages and a range of abilities such as: people with Alzheimer’s Dementia, Autism, Parkinson’s, wheelchair users and physical disabilities. My experience and understanding of enabling dance and social opportunities to all ages and abilities is constantly progressing and developing, all thanks to Plymouth Dance and Tea Dance With A Twist! Tea Dance has been a big part of my progression as a dance artist.

The wellbeing and happy hormones ignite amongst participants, practitioners, volunteers and musicians throughout this wonderful event. There is no better feeling than seeing returning and new community members smiling through dance each month.

Stacey Fowler

Meet the Team – Lucy Freeman

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Hi,

My name is Lucy and I am one of the lead practitioners for Tea Dance with a Twist!. My role includes greeting people, dancing and at times teaching short phrases that our guests can learn and try out. Most of the time, I feel my role is a lot about about having fun and facilitating a safe and enjoyable environment for those attending the events!

It is an immense pleasure to meet and welcome people who are attending their first Tea Dance with a Twist!, as well as build friendships with those who become regulars. Something I hear often in chatting to our guests is that the Tea Dance events offer a place to be social where previously they might have felt increasingly isolated or lonely. I love being able to spend time with people and hear about their stories. So often a song, a dance or a piece of music inspires memories for our guests and they are fascinating to hear about, and I feel grateful to have been able to share so many of these moments.

Building these trusting relationships is not just an absolute pleasure, but also a crucial part of our role. During his earlier events, one gentleman felt nervous to dance without his stick but was itching to take the floor and enjoy the music. Together we established a pace that worked for him, and these days his stick is nowhere to be seen (and his first dance is usually reserved for me!).

I can’t leave Tea Dance without a huge smile on my face, and seeing smiles on so many other people’s faces is even better! I hope to see you at an event soon! 

Lucy

Meet the Team – Karen Parkinson

Karen Parkinson – Lead Dance Practitioner at Tea Dance with a Twist!

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Photography Credit: Kevin Clifford

I have been fortunate to have worked as a Dance Practitioner at the Tea Dance with A Twist! events since 2016. Tea Dance with a Twist! is my favourite day of the month! Every event is wonderfully unique, offering different dances, different people and different opportunities to learn. There are many people who return on a very regular basis, allowing friendships to form and loneliness to be combatted. I am so very lucky to have met some incredible people both on and off the dance floor. I have witnessed people coming in nervously on their first visit; not knowing what to expect, whether they are dressed appropriately or where to sit…then (as always happens) they are greeted by another lover of dance; maybe a volunteer, a member of the Plymouth Dance team or the person stood closest to them…and they realise they are welcome.

There are no rules, no expectations or requirements. Everyone is welcome.

A joyous environment where you can listen, watch, talk, laugh, dance with another, dance on your own, dance with friends or strangers.

I know of many people who have come to their first event alone, often feeling lonely and isolated. At subsequent events they have met with the people they have spoken to when they first walked through the door. This had led to friendships, meeting up not only at the Tea Dance with a Twist events but also for line dancing, badminton and walks. Promoting not only companionships and community but also improving lives through better health, increased physical activity, increased mobility and independence.

Tea Dance with a Twist! has also increased my confidence, in both myself and my ability to connect, facilitate dance and engage those around me. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to be involved with such a wonderful, positive and life changing event. Thank you.

Karen