Valerie’s dance is a short film commissioned by verd de gris and created by choreographer Natalie Speake, film-maker Geoff Brokate and musician Amy-Rose Atkinson.

A big part of verd de gris’ work is about reaching out to individuals and groups of people who don’t often get the chance to express themselves and share their thoughts with the wider community.

verd de gris has a long history of working creatively in the field of Arts & Health. In 2016 we ran a year-long celebration looking at the power of music to “transform lives”. Our dance worker and choreographer Natalie Speake developed a short intensive project with her Dance4Fun group for people living with Parkinson’s. ‘Valerie’s Dance’ is an offshoot of this and was submitted to the national film competition organised by ‘When I Dance’

Watch the film here:

Valerie Harrison and her partner Bruce Monro attend Natalie’s weekly Parkinson’s dance class in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Dance for Fun is about promoting independence and self-motivation – staying well for longer in local community spaces where people feel safe, comfortable and confident. They are about ‘re-energising’ the participant, giving them new creative experiences and drawing on the formation of new ideas, new responses, making new friends and new social connections.

When Valerie first joined the class she was quite reserved and held her emotions inside, however it didn’t take long before she started to stand out within the sessions for her ability to express herself freely and creatively. She was chosen to represent this wonderful group in the ‘When I Dance’ competition and when asked how she felt about the group and her role within the project she said she was “in awe” of all the other members.

When we asked her how she felt about winning the competition Valerie said she was “humbled and gratified”. Natalie said: “When I found out we had won the award I was bursting with pride and joy. It was a real affirmation of all the hard work and determination that goes into running a dance class for people with Parkinson’s and how beneficial dance can be for people of all ages and abilities.”

The film captures Valerie’s natural movements and their connection to nature, from the shake of a hand and the rustle of a leaf, to the warmth of the sun and the memory of her children playing in the park. The fiddle plays in response to Valerie’s dance which is set under the branches of a tree in her local park. It follows a woman struggling with the grief and loss one faces in daily life when living with a condition such as Parkinson’s combined with the hope and courage needed to remain strong and alive.

The competition judges said … “This is beautifully performed and has been captured so artistically on film. Valerie’s performance shows a very expressive and brave response to the task.

The Creative Communities (Stronger Together) programme is supported with funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

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