Dance for Health

PRESS5 Sensing Movement Symposium July 28SM poster 5

Sensing Movement: A Dance, Health and Wellbeing Symposium RUA RED Arts Centre, Tallaght

Sensing Movement: A Dance, Health and Wellbeing Symposium is jointly curated by the National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital and Ailish Claffey, Dance Artist and Dancer in Residence Tallaght Hospital. The event will focus on crafting connections, building community and sustaining dance and health practice. The day promises to offer a wonderful opportunity for health practitioners, movers, teachers, students and those searching to connect in new ways through the moving body.

The Dance and Health Symposium takes place on Friday 28th July, 9am – 6pm at RUA RED South Dublin Arts Centre, Tallaght, Dublin 24. The venue is fully wheelchair accessible.

The Symposium kindly funded by South Dublin County Council and supported by the Meath Foundation will comprise of movement workshops, panel discussions, short presentations and film screenings from diverse voices including artists David Leventhal (Programme Director, Dance for Parkinsons Disease) Miranda Tufnell (UK based dance maker and artist working in the field of healthcare – recently published her insightful book: When I Open My Eyes), Dr. Jenny Elliot (Chief Executive at Northern Ireland based ArtsCare), Ailish Claffey (Dance Artist in Residence Tallaght Hospital), Deirdre Glenfield (Visual Artist in Residence Tallaght Hospital), Hazel Hodgins (Dance Ireland), Carolann Courtney (Kildare Arts and Health Specialist). Panel discussions will be moderated by Dr Ronan Collins (Director of Stroke Services and Consultant in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine at Tallaght Hospital) and Dr Hilary Moss (Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at the World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick).

Tickets from €15. To register your attendance follow this link



Ailish Claffey | Ailish Claffey Dance

T.  0877685673 E.

Alison Baker Kerrigan, Programme Manager, National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital

T.  01 4142076 E.

Of Special Note:

‘The Dance Back Home’ video documentary created with patients and staff in the Age Related Unit in Tallaght Hospital by Artists in Residence Ailish Claffey and Deirdre Glenfield will be screened for the first time at the Dance And Health Symposium

The National Centre for Arts and Health

The National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital exists to improve patient care and to promote the benefits of the arts in health. Situated in Tallaght Hospital, the centre aims to improve the hospital experience for patients to explore the therapeutic potential of the arts to build positive links with the local community and to make the arts accessible to patients who cannot access traditional arts venues. For more information on the arts programme contact Alison Baker Kerrigan, Programme Manager, National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital, Tel: 01 4142076 Email:

Ailish Claffey – is a dance artist and movement practitioner with an interest in health, wellbeing and older people. Specialising in choreological studies, Ailish works in a collaborative capacity exploring and creating work that examines the complexity of human relationships. BETWEEN SPIRIT AND SKIN Ailish’s most recent solo, created in response to experience working as dancer in residence at Tallaght Hospital, was presented at RUA RED Gallery as part of Oil & Water June 2016. As a founding member of HAVOC Dance and Curator of 2016 Kildare Dance and Movement Summer School / Dance and Health Seminar, Ailish is also in Residence at McAuley Place, Naas. 2017 will see Ailish entering her third and most extensive residency yet for The National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital with thanks to funding from South Dublin County Council and The Arts Council, Ireland.



Dancer in Residence

Age Related Health Care Unit, The National Centre for Arts and Health (AMNCH)

Tallaght Hospital (

Kindly funded by The Meath Foundation, South Dublin County Council and The Arts Council, Ireland.

Dance artist Ailish Claffey sees each new dance work as an opportunity to share a unique world view. However many people are locked out of this creative act and as Dancer in Residence it is her intension to open up this creative act to those with the least likelihood of ever being involved. 

There is a perception that most art forms work in a hospital setting including art, music, writing but that dance is for fit athletic bodies and not suited to those that are sick, particularly if they are confined to bed! As an artist I want to not only challenge this perception but create and choreograph new dance work in collaboration with patients by their bedside. I want to share the joy of dancing, creating and moving together with participants of all ages and abilities.

By inviting participants within the hospital to engage and collaborate in the choreographic act, together we will create unique new work that is essentially a tapestry of lives, world views and ideas interwoven together. 



Dance for Parkinson’s

Date: Every Friday from 15 September 2017 – Friday 01 December 2018 (no class Friday 3rd November)

Time: 11:30 – 13:00

Venue: DanceHouse, 1 Foley Street, Dublin 1

Admission: 5euro (tea/coffee included)

Teacher: Ailish Claffey, assisted by Olwyn Lyons

Classes are led by professional dance artist, Ailish Claffey who has advanced training in Dance for P.D. with David Leventhal, Mark Morris Dance Company, Brooklyn, US.

Ailish is Dancer in Residence at Tallaght Hospital (AMNCH), based in The Age Related Health Care Unit. This role is kindly supported by South Dublin County Council, The Meath Foundation and The Arts Council, Ireland. Ailish has recently been awarded Dance Artist in Residence at Rua Red Arts Centre, Tallaght, kindly funded by The Arts Council, Ireland.

Class is open to all and we welcome care givers, spouses and friends to join in.

Kindly supported by Dance Ireland



The benefits of dance for people with Parkinson’s have been well documented and supported by organisations such as Move4Parkinson’s. Hear from Dance for PD Program Director David Leventhal on how ‘thinking like a dancer’ can aid the management of Parkinson’s. We welcome care givers, spouses and friends to join class. The cost of each class is €5 and includes tea/coffee.

Classes are led by professional dance artist, Ailish Claffey who has trained in Dance for P.D. and is Dance Artist in Residence at Tallaght Hospital.

If DanceHouse isn’t near to you, check out Dance Theatre of Ireland’s classes (Dun Laoghaire).

Want to know more?  Listen to the talk given by Ailish Claffey & Arts, Health and Wellbeing Officer at Kildare County Council, Carolann Courtney on the topic of Dance and Health or watch our Dance for Parkinson’s film below.

Why is dance is particularly beneficial for people with Parkinson’s Disease?

Drawing from Mark Morris Dance for Parkinsons:

  • Dance develops flexibility and instills confidence.
  • Dance is a stimulating mental activity that connects body and mind.
  • Dance creates a sense of community and breaks isolation.
  • Dance uses imagery and evokes graceful movement.
  • Dance focuses attention on eyes, ears and touch as tools to assist in movement and balance.
  • Dance increases awareness of where all parts of the body are in space.
  • Dance tells stories.
  • Dance sparks creativity.
  • Dance uses and brings our attention to many different rhythms.
  • The essence of dance is joy.

Parkinson’s disease (PD), is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects muscle control, balance, and coordination, among other things.

Mark Morris have developed the first training available to dance teachers to work with those with Parkinsons Disease. It has been a huge success worldwide and the benefits are overwhelming as more and more research is being conducted and information is becoming more readily available. I have seen it myself firsthand, participating in Dance for Parkinsons classes at The Mark Morris Dance Studios in Brooklyn during my training. Chatting with participants afterwards was a great insight to how treasured, unique and appreciated the classes are for participants, their spouses, families and carers alike.

Following the success of the initial 6 week pilot programme, kindly supported by Dance Ireland classes resume 30 November 2015. Dance classes are of great benefit for people with Parkinson’s disease, their caregivers, spouses and partners as a way of temporarily easing the isolation, frustrations, and impairments of the disease.

The rigorous dance class is delivered to a level of excellence. It integrates movement from contemporary, tap, jazz and ballet techniques to stretch arms, strengthen legs, engage minds and stimulate imaginations. Throughout the class, there is no mention of the disease or symptoms thus participants think of themselves as dancers not patients. The participants condition is acknowledged but it is not the sole focus of the class, thus allowing a sense of dignity and empowerment. This class is powerful in helping participants regain physical confidence in their own bodies.

Contemporary and classical dance techniques have a progressive sequential structure and emphasis is placed on qualitative control, effort, balance, coordination, expressive range and sensitivity to music. All of these elements are particularly effective in helping people with Parkinson’s regain a sense of grace and control.

The dance class provides a safe environment for playing and working with challenges which maybe physical, cognitive, creative or artistic but all of which are enjoyable and fun. Pure exercise classes can be monotonous and participants may find it difficult to maintain motivation to attend and participate whereas a dance class is a much richer experience as it involves the whole being.

The benefits of dance class spill over into everyday life for participants – it becomes second nature to be aware of posture, position and rhythmic movement whether in class or in the shopping centre.

One of the many benefits of dance class is giving participants a movement vocabulary and quality that can help him/her deal with the challenges of daily life with greater confidence. Eg. how to find a solution and way of moving if you freeze at a traffic light etc.

Quote from Mark Morris website: “dance lives within – and there is always a way of bringing it to light”

Ailish has completed the Teacher Training Programme with the Mark Morris Dance Company in Brooklyn in addition to Continued Professional Development with Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK and the Network Steering Group. Ailish is grateful for ongoing support from David Leventhal, Programme Director, Dance for PD.

Here are a few links that may be of interest:


Why Dance for PD


Trailer for Capturing Grace

More information is available from The Dance for PD website



Ailish Claffey, the curator of this years dance and movement summer school has this to say about the upcoming programme of work:
“According to Rudolf Laban, mans real purpose in life was to create a life with festive occasions “which should concentrate on deepening the sense of mutuality and the appreciation of the personal identity of each individual”.
As curator of 2016 Kildare Laban based Summer School I believe this inclusive week of dance is the ideal platform to bring Dance & Health to this appreciative audience. Within this ethos of community let us unite in dance together on the beautiful and historic grounds of Maynooth University for this memorable event”—blog/a-word-from-the-curator

I was delighted to be invited by Kildare County Council Arts Service to curate the 2016 Dance & Movement Summer School Programme.

Curating The Kildare County Council Arts Service’s 2016 Dance & Movement Summer School Programme provided the unique opportunity to incorporate a Dance & Health seminar into the week. The enthusiasm and generous support offered by Kildare Arts Office to this was paramount to the weeks success.

The Summer School offers a ‘pick and mix’ programme allowing you to immerse yourself in an exciting range of approaches to dance, movement and health.

Who is the 2016 Kildare Dance & Movement Summer School for? We welcome people of all backgrounds aged 18+. Previous experience of Laban’s work or other dance techniques is not essential. We are open to all, and people of all levels of ability and mobility can engage in the various workshops on offer.

The workshops will enhance the work of dancers; from beginners to practitioners, actors, youth & community groups / workers, social workers, academics, health care providers, physical therapists and many others who wish to develop expression and communication through movement.

Dance and Movement Summer School: 18 July – 20 July 2016

We aim to offer you a chance to develop your dance skills through technique and choreographic workshops from dancers such as: Ailish Claffey (ROI) / Anna Carlisle (UK) / Cathy Coughlan (ROI) / Colm Gallagher (UK) / Humanz Collective (ROI) / Noeleen Mc Grath (NI) and Magdalene Hylak (ROI) / Wendy Hermelin (UK)

Dance and Health Seminar: 21 July – 22 July 2016

In strategic partnership with Dance Ireland and Move4Parkinsons we will be offering a specific Dance and Health seminar for the final two days of the summer school focusing on Dance for Parkinson’s Disease and Dance and Health. This seminar will offer a unique opportunity to work intensely over the final two days with dancers: David Leventhal (USA – Dance for PD, Mark Morris Dance Group) and Dr. Jenny Elliott (NI – CEO Arts Care)

The 2016 Summer School will continue to explore Rudolf Laban’s fundamentals i.e. The Body, Space, Effort, & Relationship as our previous years have, whilst offering a new programme of work that will explore dance and health, contemporary dance and screen based technology, dance and disability, and youth & community dance.