Creative Encounters Year Two: Part One

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by Clare Whistler, dancer for Creative Encounters

Why are so many care homes called ‘Court?’

For me the word brings to mind courtiers, and history books, places of grandeur and hierarchies, going to court for the law, an old fashioned way for courting couples, whatever it is, I like the picture of places where we ‘pay court’ to the residents. With a deep flourish and bow, a politeness and honour, a humility and an acceptance of whatever response we get.

This is an outstanding home. The place, the carers, the activities, the engagement are on show for all to see. There is an immediate friendliness from the staff who seem well practiced in welcoming every sort of organisation, method and offering into the home. There is lots of space and residents are spread around so there is no sense of overcrowding or rooms full of residents, here one has to search them out.

The activities room has an aquarium, huge photographs of waterfalls and windows opening onto woodland and marvellous white pebble shaped sculptures that can be turned on to become multi coloured. There is wallpaper of a library and drawers of real books and the range of welcoming armchairs with their high backs and comfort.

The chairs are arranged into a circle, leaving spaces for wheelchairs, a low table is set with a wide assortment of musical instruments. The other artists prepare their instruments and we prepare to meet each other in the making of a piece – a piece of improvisation- drums, oboe, violin, the room, the objects in it and my moving through and with it. A lovely non verbal greeting and today it takes us to an unusual mood- a good way to start.

The event begins, the room fills with people, the world of making music and being radically present begins and the afternoon unfolds. What a joy and a privilege for all to be ‘making’ together, a precious time.

We all end up with our own experiences and stories from each session-

Today I choose K
The one with no sound but kisses
A broken necklace of words
An intensity of connection through the eyes
She looks deep and straight into mine
There is no veil, it is direct connection and no other word for it – love –

We move together, following each other
Reaching for my hand to bring to her lips
A dance of gestures
of opening, holding, giving, receiving
We finish and B, another woman, speaks, she says
‘ grace’.