Through her practice, Beatrice Allegranti explores how movement can be a pathway to re-establishing connection and communication within dementia care. She is an independent choreographer and filmmaker, UKCP Reg. dance movement psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and feminist researcher and educator. Beatrice also holds the position of Reader in Dance Movement Psychotherapy at the University of Roehampton.
Please tell us about some of the work you have done to support, improve and contribute to the lives of, people with dementias?
In 2016 I established the interdisciplinary practice and research project in collaboration with five professional dancers and composer Jill Halstead: I’ve Lost You Only To Discover That I Have Gone Missing. The project has three strands: bespoke Participatory Dances for people with rare forms of young-onset dementia and their partner/family member; a touring dance theatre performance, tackling social and medical taboos about loss, intimacy and resistance; and a series of professional development workshops for carers, healthcare professionals and artists introducing how the sense of movement known as ‘kinaesthesia’ - can be a pathway for re-establishing connection and communication within dementia care.
What was your motivation for getting involved in the field of dementia?
Several factors: My early clinical practice in NHS dementia care showed me how people make connections through kinaesthetic engagement – especially when language is compromised.
Also, my personal experiences of loss and research into how we embody loss and grief, helped me to understand that the themes relevant to dementias - loss of self, place/space, language, memory; identity and fractured intimacy - chime with wider existential issues.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement or highlight?
Every Participatory Dance is a highlight! The project is life changing for me and the artistic team - it’s enriching our understanding of what it means to be human. By bearing witness to people's stories, creating bespoke dances for, and with, people living with dementia and their families, we are able to find an ‘embodied kinship' and acceptance through creative collaboration.
Establishing a service with monthly Participatory Dance groups at Alexandra Palace and Merton Arts Space with the support of Dementia Pathfinders and Dementia Action Alliance. This will offer families living with dementia regular access to embodied and creative support.
I’m also interested in the body politics of dementia: how sex, gender, sexuality, race and age impact the experience of relating and I’ll be developing this research in collaboration with neuroscientist Jonathan Silas.
I’ll also be collaborating with illustrator Neil Max Emmanuel on a graphic novel about dementia...with a twist!
If you could change one thing now to improve the lives of people living with dementia, what would it be?
I’d like to change policy and public perception so that ‘dementia bodies’ are situated within the wider political economy. I’m driven to establish embodied, creative spaces for families living with dementias and to have these available on prescription. We need to understand that ‘disease’ is not something belonging to one individual – we need to develop an ethics of collective accountability.
This work is supported by Arts Council England.