Project Coordinator Florence Hawkins visited Scottish Dance Theatre for their first ever Family Day with Rachel House Hospice.
Find out more about Start Hospices here

There may have been grey skies overhead but that did nothing to dampen the spirits as Scottish Dance Theatre held their pilot Family Day with Rachel House Hospice at Dundee Rep, as part of our Start Hospices programme.

There are currently 49,000 children with life-limiting conditions in the UK. Of these, many do not have access to the arts. This can be through emotional, medical or logistical reasons, but often it is because they are unsure whether arts organisations can meet their specific needs. Here at Children & the Arts, our Start Hospices programme works to ensure that children in hospices can have that vital access.

Back at Dundee Rep, families and staff were treated to an intimate performance of Innocence by Scottish Dance Theatre. The performance had the whole audience involved, together we hid under giant leaves to protect ourselves from the heavy showers in the rainforest, jumped like frogs across lily pads and raised our voices loudly to sing along to songs. The piece finished with everyone dancing under falling leaves.

After lunch we returned to the studio which had been transformed for the afternoon’s activities. There was plenty to try as the space had been divided into different stations offering a variety of art activities. At one station we were encouraged to stand in (rather cold) paint, before dancing on large sheets of paper that covered the floor. Soon these sheets were covered in multi coloured footprints.

Across the room projectors had been set up, one which allowed you to cut out shapes in coloured sheets of acetate to create patterns or scenes. The second projector reflected artwork that was being made on a tablet, while dancers beautifully mimicked the shapes being the projected – much to the audience’s delight!

Throughout the afternoon live musicians wandered around the space playing a variety of instruments and encouraging everyone to be involved. By the end of the session a band had formed as we all played steel drums and other percussive instruments.

To end the day families raided the dressing up station donning feather boas, tutus and silly hats to attend the final performance of the day, Indepen-dance 4’s performance of Four Go Wild in Wellies.

Thank you very much for today, it has given me lots of ideas to take back to Rachel House. Brilliant – loved seeing everyone smiling

Rachel House Hospice staff

As a pilot, this was the first Family Day offered by Scottish Dance Theatre. Fortunately it will not be the last as Scottish Dance Theatre will be joining the three year Start Hospices programme in September 2018. We are very excited to see how the project develops!

The overall aim was for everyone to leave us with some good new memories, feeling a renewed sense of connection to one another and to have made some new friends at Dundee Rep. It really was a magical day and I am grateful to all the team and our partners who made it happen. 

Dawn Hartley, Head of Creative Learning

All images © Brian Hartley