Joanna Young and collaborators have been working at Dixon Community Day Care Centre for 18-months, working with older adults aged 60-91 living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 

Joanna led a multi-sensory workshop series inspired by our relationship to water and the sea.  

Each workshop took place around a table and grew from exploring sensations and imagery around our relationship to water.  The workshops were multi-sensory, working with tactile objects such as shells, stones, sand, seaweed, clay and ice.  We found ways to dance, move and relax together by exploring imagery of watery weather, the beach, and our bodies being made of mostly water.  We listened to sounds of water, to sea shanties, music and poems relating to water.  We created music as a group with composer and musician Niroshini Thambar and explored singing, voice and breath work with sensory artist Kirsty Biff Nicolson.  

The workshops responded to what emerged in the room and gathered imagery and references contributed by participants to include in the following sessions.  The key values of the workshops have been around presence and connection. The work has been about sharing and creating an experience in the moment, working with what’s in us and in front of us on that day, with what floats to the surface and offers an opportunity for connection.  It’s been about celebrating being here, together, now and valuing our sensing bodies.   

A very short film that includes footage from the workshops is included here alongside feedback from the participants. 

The older adults’ group and the staff at Dixon Community have adored the sessions, receiving a range of positive feedback: 

  • “It lifted my depression and sadness. It helped better than my medication”
  • “I feel relaxed and a lot better now. It stops my aches and pains that are normally very bad” 
  • “Loved everything about it, very glad that you’re coming back, I just want to keep going” 
  • “It’s done my body good, moved circulation around” 
  • “I appreciate the company” and staff have said: 
  • “It’s good for everyone’s wellbeing, especially mental health. You can see people are more relaxed after the session.” 

Participants: Nasim, Agnes, Anne, Betty, Kauser, Mary, Abdul, Nasim, Olive, Betty, Siraj, Miller. 
Lead Artist / Choreographer / Facilitator: Joanna Young
Camera & Editor: Lucas Chih-Peng Kao
Composer & Sound Designer / Co-facilitator: Niroshini Thambar
Co-facilitators / Co-creators / Peer support: Kirsty Biff Nicolson, Saffy Setohy & Aya Kobayashi 
Producer: Nina Doherty
Mentoring for Research & Development: Kirsty Alexander
Thanks to Sonia and Mary and all staff at The Dixon Community for hosting and supporting this project.

This workshop series has grown from a collective work Joanna was involved in called Bodies of Water, made with Saffy Setohy, Aya Kobayashi and Nicolette Mcleod, and her time spent at Dixon Community Day Care Centre in Govanhill, working creatively with participants there to co-create the workshop sessions with Sensory Collective artists Kirsty Biff and Niroshini Thambar.

Joanna Young is a socially-engaged dance artist, choreographer and facilitator based in Glasgow.  She is influenced by somatic and sensory art, Yoga and Mindfulness, and by our interconnecting relationships with each other and our environments.  She is passionate about creating and facilitating in ways that are responsive and inclusive and that value and celebrate our sensing bodies.  

Joanna collaborates with other artists and participants to create performances, exhibitions, films, installations and audio walks.  She facilitates inclusive workshops in a range of education, community and health contexts.  During the pandemic she worked for two years with Govanhill Baths, leading their Arts, Health and Wellbeing programme.  

Joanna is currently part of Independent Arts Projects Sensory Collective, funded by Creative Scotland’s Culture Collective programme.  She is researching and co-creating sensory art and dance experiences for people living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Sensory Collective is a 21-month long project supporting six artists to create new, multi-sensory arts projects made with, by and for Autists, people with PMLD/complex needs and folk living with Dementia across Scotland. It is produced by Independent Arts Projects (IAP) as a Culture Collective project, funded by Scottish Government emergency Covid-19 funds through Creative Scotland.

Independent Arts Projects (IAP) works with some of Scotland’s most talented and innovative artists and theatre makers to develop, produce and tour a programme of productions, arts projects, events and opportunities for people across Scotland and beyond.

Photo credit: Erika Stevenson