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Seabreeze dance project

22.04.14 Categories: How donations help, Young people

Your donations have helped a group of disadvantaged young people with mental health issues find creative expression through dance. Maudsley Charity is one of the partners that has funded this ambitious new pilot scheme called Seabreeze, which helps service users to express themselves and realise their potential using the medium of dance. The dancers were all clients of four early intervention health teams. 

The project was run by Dance United, an established organization renowned for the quality and effectiveness of its work with disadvantaged young people. Dance United use dance training and performance to improve the lives of young people experiencing difficult circumstances.

The aim of the Seabreeze project was to find out what impact intensive intervention might have on young people who have mental health issues, and concluded with a series of performances of an original dance routine.

Part of the project's methodology is that Dance United expect 100% commitment from participants, which enables them to achieve the best they can.

‘We’re not interested in what they did before the project started, we just see them as dancers,’ explains Carly Annable-Coop, Alliance Dance Director at Dance United. 

‘It’s about showing these young adults what they can achieve and helping them realise their potential.’ 

First time on stage 

This group of 18-35 year olds had only been rehearsing for 12 days before performing live in front of a real audience. At the end of the performance, audience members went wild with applause. Some even had tears in their eyes.

‘When they came together, not only had they never met each other before, many of them had never danced before either,’ Carly says. ‘The transformation has been incredible.’

This project shows how alternative therapies like dance can provide great benefit to people in moments of crisis. 

‘Our methodology involves intensive training – we rehearse every day, we expect people to be there and to be 100 per cent committed,’ says Carly. ‘And we demand the highest standards. Yes, it’s been hard at times, but they’ve come out of it with a piece of work they can all feel very proud of.’

The confidence that results from having achieved such an impressive feat in a relatively short space of time could have long-lasting benefits on service users. These could include improving interpersonal relationships and resilience. 

This dance-led intervention was run as a pilot and will now be evaluated for its impact on mental well-being using specially-chosen criteria. On top of this, a film about the project will be shared with other mental health services and project participants will be given the opportunity to continue dancing together on a regular basis. 

‘We really believe that a project like this can have very far-reaching benefits,’ says Carly. ‘It’s about team-building, resilience and trust.’

Seabreeze participants share what the project has meant to them

‘Coming in every day is a bit of a challenge but it’s something that I needed to rise to. It’s hard, but I feel good because of it.” 

‘I've started walking with my head up when I walk down the street. I used to walk with it down… it does make you feel more confident.’

‘It's making me feel more comfortable with just being out of the house and amongst people and around people and going on public transport… I am feeling my anxieties are getting lower and lower.’

Seabreeze was made possible by your generous donations. Help us fund more life-changing projects.