Written by Clare Whistler, Creative Encounters Movement Artist
Rising from the armchair with a soft smile E reaches for my hand with his while his other goes to my waist. We start a side-to-side waltz, a tiny lilt in our rhythm – the practice of something innate of movement, music and rhythm.
Earlier E had been brought into the room in a wheelchair and helped to sit on a chair with his uneasy legs.
Gently I turn under his arm and we continue until the end of the music, all of us finishing together.
The whole room of people seem to take in this moment of connection, presence, poignancy and memory. This moment is the treasure.
Finding treasured moments is part of the Creative Encounters endeavour – the present moment is the gift.
The live cello, violin and oboe accompanied by an array of handheld instruments used in any way at all – happens in the air and is gone.
The movement – lingers and is over.
Charcoal drawn on paper is smudged and transformed.
We are all in the room together in a state of experiment and experience and not knowing what way it will go.
But one always knows when ‘a moment,’ has been ‘a moment’. The deep eyed connection, the touch, the making-together.
New carers gingerly enter and take their time seeing what is going on, a new way may open up possibilities for their own connections and use of the non-verbal. To work in a care home for Dementia is an overwhelming task needing skill, knowledge, imagination, self-care, collaboration and fortitude. To see a carer enjoying the sessions, hitting drums, engaging differently with a patient is an aim of the project and today in this fourth week we see many examples of just that.
After the group session the artists divide up between the three floors to visit lounges and private rooms.
Julian and I visit the downstairs lounge. I ask politely for the TV detective story’s volume to be turned down and we start.
It feels like everyone remembers me. How can I know, but somewhere there is a recognition that this will bring delight. A song, a dance with a gauze yellow scarf that touches their skin and seems to float in the air.
The smiles on their faces are charming whatever the tumble of words that emerge. Dementia allows for so much beyond spoken language to find ways in, to do things on a slant. To embrace the unknowable is a practice of responsiveness, lack of self-consciousness and, dare I say it, love.