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The group you need to see at Rockhampton Dance Festival

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Azar House residents tap group in their final rehearsals for the Rockhampton Dance Festival at the Pilbeam Theatre.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Azar House residents tap group in their final rehearsals for the Rockhampton Dance Festival at the Pilbeam Theatre. Allan Reinikka ROK190916azar3

A GROUP of Rockhampton dancers is set to prove age is no barrier when they take centre stage at the Pilbeam tonight.

Last year, the group wowed audiences with a hip hop routine and tonight they'll perform a tap routine.

But dancing in the spotlight wasn't always the aim for the Leinster Place residents, with dance classes originally planned to help improve the lives of those living in the facility's dementia care unit Azar House.

Leinster Place manager Robyn Tetteroo said the facility started offering classes three years ago as a way of stimulating memory in the short term as well as improving balance and mobility.

Azar House dementia patients tap group doing their final rehearsals for the Rockhampton Dance Festival. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Azar House dementia patients tap group doing their final rehearsals for the Rockhampton Dance Festival. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK190916azar2

"The research does indicate (music and dance) does help with recall, it may not be a long term recall, but it certainly stimulates different pathways in the brain,” Robyn said.

And the results have been evident in Leinster Place, with those taking part in the classes showing improved fitness and enjoyment.

"They're fully engaged when they're there, they're smiling, they're participating,” she said.

"From an outsider's perspective, they look like they're having a really good time.”

This is the first year residents from other Leinster Place units have joined with Azar House for the classes and performance.

Dance Festival

  • See the Leinster Place dancers perform in the Rockhampton Dance Festival evening session from 6.30pm tonight at the Pilbeam Theatre
  • Tickets for one session are $8 for adults, $5 for competitors and $5 for pensioners, students and children
  • The Dance Festival runs until Monday, October 3

Robyn said some performers had seen last year's routine and wanted to join, while another were dancing in honour of her husband who was part of last year's group.

"We've extended it a little bit more throughout Leinster Place as well and that's something we'll be building on as time goes on because we do have other people interested who weren't involved early enough to learn the routine,” she said.

Robyn believes in time, the program may be adopted by other care facilities.

Azar House dementia patients tap group doing their final rehearsals for the Rockhampton Dance Festival. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Azar House dementia patients tap group doing their final rehearsals for the Rockhampton Dance Festival. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK190916azar4

"The benefits we see for people are pretty significant,” she said.

"We've certainly got the support of family members of everyone who is dancing.”

While the group have lessons once a week, Robyn said small bursts of practice and movement had been incorporated into everyone's daily routine.

But she said the performance and the dance program as a whole wouldn't be possible without the support of all staff, with many taking time off to learn the routine and perform it on stage with residents.

Topics:  azar house, dance, dance festival, dementia, pilbeam theatre, tap dancing, whatson



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