Get your groove on

BROADREACH - DCC Dance Across Dublin 2013 Photo Sarah Latty 1.jpg

By Michelle Newman

Director of CoisCéim BROADREACH Phillipa Donnellan talks us through the programme

Suitable for: The active retired


“BROADREACH is the participation and engagement programme of CoisCéim Dance Theatre.

My work as a choreographer, teacher and facilitator is rich and varied and has developed significantly over the past 12 years, since BROADREACH was first established in 2006.

“Along with coordinating the programme, as well as leading classes and projects with a range of age groups, I teach a regular (and wonderfully joyful) drop-in dance class in Dublin city centre– as well as other creative performance projects with people aged 50 tears and over. This area of work within BROADREACH has grown extensively over the years with dance becoming an increasingly popular activity amongst this particular age group.

“The class includes learning a range of movements drawn from styles - including folk, rock ‘n’ roll, the Charleston, contemporary, ballet and swing to name but a few. This approach is designed to enable people to dance to music of many genres in ways which are both familiar and new, which people love!

“Class content also involves gentle stretching and aerobic exercise to music in order to maintain such aspects as muscular strength, coordination, balance and flexibility, as well as learning/creating new choreography and sequences to aid memory, expressive ability and for general enjoyment.

“You do not need a partner for this class. It is particularly important for people to feel they can come on their own, to meet, socialise and dance with others.

The classes are suitable for the active retired. People with ailments such as arthritis, can be easily accommodated and are encouraged to attend in order to maintain general health and well-being. Unfortunately, this class is not suitable for more elderly people.

“Each year we offer new performance opportunities, which vary in scale and artistic focus. Our current project DANCE LATTIUDES, is for people aged 50+ and explores Dublin city through dance and performance. It’s an open participation invitation for anyone with a curiosity and interest in dance, performance, architecture and the city of Dublin, and will culminate in a series of celebratory performances as part of Culture Night 2019.”


For further information


Sharon Vandermerwe, who runs the Ballet Áthas Adult Repertoire Company, explains why ballet is a fantastic way to keep fit

Suitable for: Someone who’s up for a bit of a challenge


“Taking up ballet as an adult is not only possible, it has been proven to be a very enjoyable way to get great health and fitness benefits. You are never too old to plié or pirouette. It’s never too late.

“Our adult classes are designed for fun and fitness, whether you have never danced, danced when you were younger, or want to keep up with your dancing. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy and benefit from ballet; it’s a great way of improving strength, stamina, co-ordination and cardiovascular fitness.

“Beginner ballet for adults means that having no previous experience at ballet (or any other form of dance) would be necessary or essential. Ballet Áthas offers adult ballet classes at Dance House for all dancers - all the way from absolute beginners to advanced pre-professionals and retired dancers, of all genders. New dancers can start at any time and there is no special equipment or shoes needed, as gym clothes and socks are perfect.

“These classes cater for all ages, from early 20’s, through to 50’s and beyond, where both the age range and ability levels of all dancers catered for. The exercises are structured to be safe for all levels of fitness as well. Classes are relaxed, friendly and can be as challenging as you decide to make them.

“Ballet exercises develop fitness and stamina, rebuild control of core muscles, improve balance, posture and agility, build strength in the muscles bones, flexibility in the joints and spine, as well as challenging the brain to remember simple dance sequences.

“So many people are experiencing tightness and tension in their bodies, leading to mental, physical, and emotional stress. We offer a place for people to come and reduce their stress levels, along with improving their flexibility, movement, and energy flow.

“Our Adult Repertoire Company offers participants the opportunity to perform twice annually, in full-costume and stage make-up on professional stages in the greater Dublin area, inviting their family and friends to attend in a safe and friendly, non-critical environment. Those attending the Repertoire Company classes are free to opt in or out of the performances, it is entirely personal choice.”


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Ailish Claffey who created Dance for Parkinson’s tells us how the class came to be

Suitable for: Everybody, particularly those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease


“After time spent performing in New York and Boston I completed two teacher training programmes that had a profound impact on my practice. Dance for Parkinson’s Disease with David Leventhal at Mark Morris Studio in Ney York and teacher trainings with functional anatomist Irene Dowd, NYC were pivotal in creating this class.

“These two specialisations married with previous experience and training offered a unique structure and way into movement that is accessible for all without compromising artistry.

“The class is designed to bring participants on a movement journey that incorporates the whole person. The structure is based on contemporary dance class and integrates movement from ballet, tap and jazz techniques to set dancing and tango.

“This class provides the opportunity for participants to engage, explore and embody movement in new ways. This in turn has positive effects on relationships. with oneself, others and the world around you.  The focus of the class is on the artistry of movement and welcomes those of every ability, mobility and experience. All movement can be adapted and enjoyment is key. 

“Attending the class alone is welcomed but I encourage anyone considering attending to invite a significant other, spouse or friend if they wish. Sharing the experience with others not only adds to the enjoyment, but helps with incorporating movements explored in class into everyday life. In addition to led movement, the class supports expressive freedom and loosing oneself in movement, which requires both bravery and not taking oneself too seriously, all of which are transferrable and beneficial skills in life outside the studio! 

“The benefits of Dance for Parkinson’s Disease include physical changes - like improvements to balance, coordination and expressive range, qualitative control and sensitivity to stimulus including music - social and emotional changes through building confidence in one’s physicality develops bodily autonomy. Receiving and offering support to peers and moving together with others develops feelings of connection and wellbeing, along with cognitive or mental stimulation, as generating movement has been proven to improve a person’s divergent thinking in areas such a problem solving.  

“All are welcome but class is of particular benefit to those with a movement disorder in particular Parkinson’s Disease.”


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Catherine Devane