Participants “travel the world” with Dementia-Friendly Folk Dance class

Seattle Parks and Recreation recently hosted a three-week Dementia-Friendly Folk Dance class to bring together persons living with memory loss and their care partners. The class met at Montlake Community Center, where participants “traveled the world” by performing a variety of folk dances from France, Greece, Russia, West Polynesia (Rarotonga/Cook Islands), Mexico, Japan, Turkey, and Aztec cultures. The group even created their own original folk dance performed to a song by South African musician Brenda Fassie.

Silver Kite teaching artist Susan Wickett-Ford shared her enthusiasm for leading the class: “Sitting there with a grin on my face at the end of class, and none of us wanting to leave, I looked around the circle and saw the same smile on every face.  ‘Dancing makes you happy,’ is what one participant said. I could say something more complicated, but not more true. I loved getting to play with these new friends. They helped each other, they encouraged me, they tried everything and laughed a lot. I thought I might have to be a cheerleader at times to get people on their feet, but I couldn’t stop them from dancing! What a privilege!”

Offered as part of a new partnership with Silver Kite Community Arts, the class was supported through a grant from the MemoryCare Plays at Taproot Theater, which supports creative opportunities for persons living with memory loss and care partners. Funding was also provided by the Seattle Park District. Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation including maintenance of parklands and facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.