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Getting CreActive

5 January 2022

Getting CreActive – part 1

This blog explores the ‘CreActive’ part of the Get CreActive project – a year-long exploration of the experiences of adults with hip dysplasia.

Blog 1 in this series provided a background to hip dysplasia and the aims of the Get CreActive project. Blog 2 detailed how we used the drawing of timelines to elicit the telling of stories from each member of the group.  Blog 3 relayed a communal reflection on being (and trying to be) physically active with hip dysplasia via a desert island activity.

Our initial discussions about being active (see blog 3) brought forward so much positively about ways to be physically active. The group offered a fantastic stack of tips and tricks to one another and provided a lot of mutual encouragement.  It was also evident however that for some, being active was extremely challenging – often due to significant levels of pain and discomfort they were experiencing.  Putting to one side resisted exercise, water-based activities and cycling, it felt time to think differently about being active.

At the outset of the project we had enlisted four creative artists to work with us.

  1. Digital storyteller Lisa Heledd-Jones
  2. Visual artist Seth Oliver
  3. Dancer/choreographer Jack Philp
  4. Rare Species – a literal dance and comedy theatre duo

Working with the creative artists had two clear goals – first, to explore newer ways of being active and second to aid and capture experiences of living with hip dysplasia.

Here I focus on getting CreActive with our two movement artists – Jack Philp and theatre company Rare Species.

Movement workshops with Jack Philp

To get started, we introduced the group to Jack Philp – a Cardiff-based dancer choreographer (https://www.jackphilpdance.co.uk/) and planned a handful of movement workshops for the group to try. The aim of the workshops was to experience movement in a different way – and to be all inclusive.

Reflective of the level of physical pain and discomfort the group experience – there was significant anxiety about trying this new activity.  Unsure of what to expect and how they would cope, the group needed a great deal of encouragement to give it a go – including reassurance that the workshop would focus on ‘movement’ not ‘dance’ as they might imagine.

The 45-minute-long workshops held by Jack were held online – helpful not only from a covid perspective, but critical for this group who are so geographically spread. The sessions consisted of three very gentle movement activities – focussed on flow and complete control and autonomy over ones movements.

Photo courtesy of Kirsten McTernan.

This peaceful session was met with unanimous delight.  Deb’s reflection below encompasses the groups experience.

Taking part in a movement session

I had no idea what to expect when we were invited to a Movement session. I mean, what does a movement session mean? What is that? And what do you wear to something when you don’t really know what it is? 

I needn’t have worried. It turned out to be exactly what it said it would be- but soon became more than that. 

We focussed on our fingers and followed them wherever they went. This meant that we were immersed in the moment. We shifted from self-conscious to being fully present. We moved how we wanted and in our own time. It was as simple and brilliant as that. 

Jack guided us through, and we never felt like we were being judged or rushed or told that we couldn’t or shouldn’t be doing it that way. 

This session was about us. 

It reminded me of being a young child set free in an open space on a warm day. Let loose at the park or the beach, and you could stretch your limbs and twist and turn in whatever way you felt like, and you enjoyed playing with the freedom and the simplicity of movement.

Rare Species and Mojo Moves

In complete contrast, and with confidence about moving together raised, the Get CreActive crew were invited to join a couple of online ‘Mojo Moves’ classes.

Delivered by Rare Species comedy theatre duo, Mojo Moves is a comedy aerobics, literal dancerise session. Using a range of music including lots of classic disco, we met ‘Cheryl Sprinkler’ online for 45 minute workouts. The sessions were tailored to the particular needs of the group with the aim of working up a sweat from the mix of movement and laughter. From Cheryl Sprinklers’ signature move – the sprinkler, to grapevines and plenty of armography, we grooved the afternoon away.

After a period of quite intense sharing and reflection, rocking up in disco style get up, singing and dancing was the injection of fun we needed.

“It was such brilliant and fun session; I’m so glad I took part”

“That was such great fun! So glad there is going to be another session!  It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to try things I wouldn’t have normally tried.”

Although nervous and unsure, trying out these activities as a group gave everyone a chance to try something new. For those in the group who were having a really tough time with their bodies, these activities offered a different way to engage with physical activity and potentially reframe what it meant to them and for them.

Thinking differently about physical activity by trying out these two sessions was however only one of the ways we worked with creative artists on the Get CreActive project. In the next blog, we explain how we used digital storytelling and visual art to present the groups experiences.

Dr Julie Latchem Hastings

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