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Dance Interaction

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What it is:

  • is a unique method of working one to one with people with complex needs, including profound and multiple learning and physical needs, and people experiencing mental and emotional health issues. It uses creative dance to build confidence in personal and social interaction, increase communication and expression skills, enhance self esteem, trust in others, belief and agency in own ideas and personal creativity.


  • is individually tailored to each participant, in respect to their learning / health needs and objectives, their interests and their unique personality; and, whilst a framework of activity is devised for each individual, is responsive to the moment in which it is happening - adapting to engagement, mood, developing aspects of work.

  • is delivered by dance artists experienced in facilitation, creative and contemporary dance processes, work in SEND and / or arts and health settings. As the demand for the work grows Debi is training dance artists to build the Dance Interaction team, and is interested in hearing from dance artists who would like to find out more. 

How it works:

  • Dance Interaction combines processes and activities from creative contemporary dance (partner interaction e.g. mirroring / non-verbal conversational exchange, improvisation, duet sequence building, contact work), creative learning and play, intensive interaction, movement games, dance therapy.


  • It draws on a wide range of dance techniques, including development of physical skills such as extension, balance, elevation, travel, rotation to enhance gross and fine motor skills, and build core strength, co-ordination, agility, balance; but more importantly focuses on shared experience and enjoyment of movement, using improvisation and varied dance styles (as suited to individual interest) to build confidence in the expression of personal creativity, communication of own ideas, and positive interaction with others.


  • It is frequently multi-sensory in approach using a range of equipment and materials chosen for their inspirational qualities, particularly in respect to colour, texture, sound.


  • It works over a series of sessions - preferably 10 -12 weeks long, and continuing through the school year with at least 2 courses of 10 week sessions. Extended participation (for some pupils over 4 years) has demonstrated strong benefit in prolonged and in-depth participation in relation to outcomes.

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Aims & benefits:

  • Increase in confidence in relating to other people and ability to interact positively

  • Reduces anxiety and addresses challenging behaviour; enhances ability to self regulate

  • Addresses sensory modulation difficulties

  • Increases confidence in participating and engaging in new activity

  • Enhances non-verbal communication skills (resulting in increased expressivity), and verbal communication (through links between movement and speech / vocal sounds)

  • Enhances ability to communicate and express ideas, feelings, make choices, share and explore ideas, engage positively in creative play, engage in and understand parameters of game playing

  • Increases ability to sustain focus

  • Tackles tactile defensiveness, or difficulty in understanding personal space / appropriate  
    ways of making physical contact; making and / or maintaining eye contact

  • Improves physical integration, fine or gross motor skills, balance, co-ordination, agility, core strength, and (for those with appropriate level of cognitive development) sequencing ideas / actions, or following sequence of action

  • Enhances movement recall and memory

  • Provides a personalised, sensory and joyful experience for the individual


“I’ve literally never seen him do something like this before, I wouldn’t have thought that he would have the confidence.”

“You can literally see his confidence growing.”

“It’s good for him to face his anxieties in a safe space. He’s definitely gaining confidence.”

“He’s really watching you and interacting, following every movement!”

“He only uses his right hand in these dance sessions, we have been working on that as a target, but I’ve only seen him actually use it these sessions. He never usually holds hands with someone.”

“She really doesn’t usually take to new people or join in, so I was surprised to see her do it!”

“ They ensured that the student felt able to participate and comfortable to try the dance”

“With encouragement and by giving her time and space, my student did try the new activities which is a positive development for her.”

“She was able to interact for a longer period of time than she displays usually.”

“It’s great to see him taking the opportunity to help her [a class peer].”

“She loves the ribbon work, it really inspires her.”

“He has really enjoyed making up his own dance. It’s so good for him to know that his ideas have value.”

“He has gained so much confidence, it is great for him to share it with his friends.”

“He’s been talking about it all week, he loves it!”

“He always comes back in a happy mood, something about it really relaxes him.”

“He’s always so happy to see you, he missed you last week.”

“He’s been saying ‘dance, dance, dance’ all day”

“That’s the only time I’ve seen a genuine smile in the last two weeks.”

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