Celebrating Older Dancers: Silver Swans Day at the RAD

Celebrating Older Dancers: Silver Swans Day at the RAD

I arrived back home this week after delivering the “Silver Swans” Celebration Day with the Royal Academy of Dance, on Sunday, 1 October. The event was timed to coincide with the UN’s Day of Older People, as “Silver Swans” is a ballet-based, creative health and wellbeing programme for people over 55 years; it’s ideal for everyone – not just lifelong dancers.

It all began when Sue Peterson and I approached the RAD Artistic’s Director, Gerard Charles, in February this year with an outline proposal. This led to us conducting research with the Silver Swans teaching community to ensure that we created a genuinely valuable experience for all the participants.

Overall, 600 dancers, teachers and supporters joined us on Sunday (with 230+ performing in the show). We had curated films from dancers all around the world, repertoire workshops, talks, classes, and a 2-hour performance in the Aud Jebson theatre at the RAD’s Global HQ in London.  The event was absolutely joyful, fun, energetic and vibrant. Participants joined from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, the USA, all the UK nations, and many other places too.

HM, The Queen Consort, Camilla, who is also an avid Silver Swans dancer, sent us all a motivating and heartfelt message. Angela Rippon, our Silver Swans Ambassador, was only the night before competing live on Strictly Come Dancing! She absolutely insisted on taking part, and met so many participants and treated us to a brilliant speech on stage. It was also wonderful to be so warmly welcomed by the RAD’s Chief Executive, Tim Arthur, who recognised this wonderful, creative, mature dancer community- bringing diversity to practice.

We also had so many expert presenters, working at the forefront in their fields, to thank for their amazing work!  These included leaders in the fields of dance and psychology, wellbeing, our specialist teachers, choreographers, writers, and music composers. Our thanks go to: Annemarie CabriClare Guss-West, @David Plumpton, Peter LovattSamantha Jennings (The DanceMaker), Sarah Platt (founding teacher), Sue Peterson, Victoria Selway.

Sue and I are supremely grateful for Gerard’s leadership – all those meetings going through the spreadsheets and finer details, and working with Elizabeth Ferguson on the performance.  Together we delivered a genuinely ambitious and visionary programme. I believe it was a really big and welcoming event in the RAD’s artistic calendar and celebrated the fabulous contribution that everyone in our dance community makes. Thanks to the RAD and @Sonia Lawson, dance teacher for the photos.

Sending lots of love to older dancers 👯‍♀️ everywhere 😘❤️


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