Improvisation on the neuromedical and oncology wards - Download
Somatic Dance with children experiencing acute pain in hospital - Download
The smalldances App is a series of video tutorials for parents, carers and healthcare professionals taking care of children in hospital. The intention is to encourage creative movement and relaxation through somatic dance, which can reduce pain perception and enrich hospital experience.
The smalldances App is now free to download for apple and android.
Following the news that we have been awarded a grant from PH Holt Foundation, we will be developing training for parents and healthcare staff this autumn to support the implementation of the App at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
The From Here to There project develops and expands Small Things work at Alder Hey. We expanded to our team to include two new emerging artists Sam Hickey and Louise Gibbons who worked alongside Lisa and Cath on the hospital wards including general surgical, neuromedical and transitional care, cardiac and the burns unit. Joined by Paula Hampson, we also completed a project at the Dewi Jones inpatient mental health facility. Here we explored creative practice and nature.
Sam and Louise also joined Lisa and musicians Georgina Aasgaard and Henry Horrell in creating and performing ‘Taking Flight’, a series of improvised performances in public spaces and hospital wards to celebrate ‘the big move’ to the new Alder Hey in the Park site.
We are also working in collaboration with Twin Vision media and Soultoy to create a somatic dance app. This will provide a series of videos aimed at supporting parents and hospital staff in trying simple approaches to relaxation and movement improvisation with children whilst in hospital.
This project supported by develops the FWYA project of 2008-9.
This new project cultivated the practice assimilated during the pilot and expanded the work through research, artist development and interdisciplinary performance.
Invisible Duets was an interdisciplinary, audience responsive, performance installation (see performance projects).
This film was commissioned by the hospital in 2013 and offers insight into Small Things practice at Alder Hey.
Through regular CPD opportunities Small Things shared their approach and provided a space for artists to dialogue and develop their own practice in health. These included regular dance and health sessions and retreats led by Small Things and invited artists Miranda Tufnell, Joe Moran and Helen Poynor.
In addition, over two years we took seven apprentices into the hospital to observe our practice and offer mentoring in developing their own practice. The apprentices were Lucy Ann Newton, Sophie Galvin, Samantha Hickey, Laura Williamson, Emma Avery, Jamie Ellicot and Stacey Weaver.
Following this project in 2014 Small Things Dance Collective and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital won the NHS England Award-Children and Young People’s Award for Excellence in Participation.
You can download the From Where You Are booklet here
The From Where You Are Pilot Project, took place in 2008-09, at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, The Liverpool Improvisation Collective studio at the Bluecoat and Edge Hill University.
Lisa Dowler began developing movement and dance work at the hospital in 2006, whilst Community Dance Artist for Merseyside Dance Initiative who, as an Alder Hey Champion was involved in The Invest to Save, Arts in Health Programme.
In 2007, when she became a Senior Lecturer in Dance at Edge Hill University, Lisa continued her already established work on the neuromedical ward as research. Cath Hawkins began working at the hospital for MDI later that year as an Independent Dance Artist, on the oncology ward, then also on urology, general surgical and the Dewi Jones Unit.
From Where You Are evolved out of a desire to research and develop what was not only an interesting and new area of work, yet also movement and dance practice that patients, families and staff were responding positively to and which the hospital was describing as “groundbreaking”. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Edge Hill University were hugely supportive and funding from the National Lottery through Awards for All made this project possible.
The qualitative inquiry focused on collecting observations about the project from all participants on the neuro-medical and oncology wards. See our Research section
In October 2008, the movement and dance work won Alder Hey Children’s Hospital the North West Public Health Award for Arts and Culture, and in 2009, Jane Kennedy MP, Jean Stapleton, Councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere and Helen Buller from the Big Lottery visited the project. The project also featured in Issue 2 of the National Lottery’s Big Magazine and twice in ‘The Alder Hey Newspaper’.
“It’s a really exciting project and I hope that other hospitals will soon be taking note. It would be great to see dance and performance in a lot more hospitals helping patients back to health.” Right Honourable, Jane Kennedy, MP.
Lisa presented a paper about her work on the neuromedical ward at ‘Inspiring Transformations, Applied Arts and Health Conference’ at The University of Northampton in September 2009 and wrote an article that was included in the Winter 2010 edition of ‘Animated the Community Dance Magazine’.
In 2010, Lisa and Cath shared the project locally, with Vicky Charnock, through a talk at the Bluecoat, Liverpool. Later that year Lisa travelled to Melbourne, Australia, and presented the projects' findings at international conference, 'The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing'.
The practical part of the project came to an end in September 2009 with a three-day Dance & Health workshop at Edge Hill University. Small Things alongside Miranda Tufnell, sought to share their individual experiences and approaches to working in health and the movement practices that underlie and support these. In doing this they hoped to encourage others to develop their own approach to working in unusual and challenging environments. The workshop was popular and participants were very positive about the experience, which included discussion, improvisation, paint and huge rolls of paper, Body Mind Centering and movement work in a nearby wood.
“I felt every moment was precious and unique.”
“Personally I feel the work ‘small things’ have been doing is amazing and inspiring. There really is a need for these workshops to expand to lot more places and to make people more aware of this work as this would be so successful within a lot more hospitals.”
A special thank you; to all the children, young people and their families who took part in this project. From Where You Are was part of a wider programme of arts activities at the hospital organised by Arts Coordinator, Vicky Charnock and supported by Alder Hey, Arts Group Chair and Consultant, Dr Jane Ratcliffe. We thank them and Julie Sellers, Helen Traynor, Caroline Bibby and Phillipa Bradshaw (Play Specialists) and Sue Ashby (Teacher) for their commitment, support and enthusiasm.