Dance lifts spirits

Warrina Aged Care resident Wallace Cusworth enjoying a dance with relatives. (Tara Chandra) 244725_01

By Oliver Lees

Residents at Warrina Aged Care were treated to an emotional show just hours before the state was plunged into a fifth COVID-19 lockdown.

The aged care facility in New Gisborne welcomed members of Simone’s School of Dance who performed a contemporary dance piece.

Warrina Aged Care nursing director Tara Chandrasegran said she organised the event hoping it would bring back happy memories for the residents.

“After speaking with everyone, I realised that for 60 to 70 per cent of them dancing used to be a huge part of their lives but they hadn’t done it in years,” Ms Chandrasegran said.

“It was absolutely beautiful, we had men dressed up in bow ties and suits that hadn’t done so in years.

“There were so many emotions in the room. Even our residents with quite advanced dementia, despite not being able to have a conversation, still remember the lyrics to songs from years ago.

“In the end, some residents were crying because it brought such joyful memories.”

Simone’s School of Dance founder Simone Kennedy said the opportunity was a treat for her students too, who had had many past performances cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re a relatively small dance school, but we whipped up a new routine in just two days,” she said.

“It was a special crowd. There was one couple who was hugging throughout the whole performance and another older lady who kept saying how beautiful we all are.”

Ms Chandrasegran said she was glad to be able to give the residents something to smile about.

“The residents knew once the dance was over there would be no guests for some time again and I’m sure that contributed to the emotion,” she said.

“There’s been so many restrictions, so to have that sense of community again for a moment, I know it meant a lot to them.”