Kate Maravan, 17 January 2017

participants: Emma Hughes, Finn Cooke, Chantal Guevara, James Nuttall, Morven

Macbeth, Adrienne Quartly, Jack Drewry

The following is an excerpt from a report I wrote at a previous D&D, the session I had

called was “Mothers with Alzheimer’s”:

“Instead of a focus on loss, death of self, suffering and fear of shifting realities, we

explored about the possibility of different and more creative ways of relating with those

with Alzheimer’s. An aliveness and connection with the present moment and exploring

the language of now; a discovery of the person we are with now rather than an

attachment to who we once knew or who we feel they should still be. An invitation to

be still, quiet and discover all that lies in the spaces between words and doing. The

creating of new and meaningful realities. That relating to someone with dementia is an

exchange and can be a creative interaction.

I am very interested in how the dismantling of the fixed notion of identity and

personality is part of my Alzheimer’s experience. As my mother shifts, the ground

under my feet is shifting. A both frightening and yet totally liberating possibility of

redefining one’s relationship to self, others and the world. I go away inspired by the

creative possibilities and an understanding of the potential of Alzheimers to contribute

and enrich.”

The conversation inspired me to start developing a one woman show.

I want to have original music and dance/movement in the piece so I put a call out to

any composers and choreographers interested in collaborating.

We had a great session exploring both how music and movement could contribute to

and become integral to the piece but also how music and dance can/could be used to

engage and support people with Alzheimer’s in a wider context.

As the memory declines especially the short term memory, music and singing can be

a way to reconnect , a door to forgotten worlds, feelings and experiences. It can

provide a means of communication that is not reliant on the spoken word or more daily

forms of engagement. We talked about how people who can barely speak can find

their voice through singing and those in an advanced stages of Alzheimer’s can ‘come

alive’ with music and singing. Similarily dance can be a way of connecting with the

body and experiencing memory through feeling and physical expression. It started me

thinking about how I could offer workshops/engage with the community using the

project as a bounce board and using music and movement. We talked about how

approaching a body like onedanceuk.org might be a useful re establishing a

programme of support/workshops for those with dementia.

I would also be interested in widening the remit to people who are not living with

dementia so that the conversation about memory, identity, is relevant to us all.

We referred to Elizabeth Loftus’ work, a psychologist who has created experiments

that show we are capable of creating false memories and our often detailed accounts

of experiences can be fiction.

The project is in part an exploration of how we tend to define ourselves through our

past and potential futures and experience an understandable level of terror at the

thought of that dismantling. We talked about non attachment and the book “Don’t

Sleep There Are Snakes” was mentioned. It looks at community in the Amazon who

have no past or future tense in their language and live as far we understood it in the

now. How much can the experience of and conversation Alzheimer’s help us to

engage with being present and perceiving self in new and different ways?

The idea of having a live musician on the stage was suggested and allowing an

improvisational relationship to develop between musician and performer. This is an

exciting possibility as well as looking at how the sound design can explore and reflect

different experiences and perceptions of reality and memory.

In so many ways the conversation was inspiring and I made some great new

discoveries. I thank all the participants wholeheartedly for their contribution and

insights and I look forward to the next stage of development.