FEATURE | The Dance Party
It was a sunny Thursday afternoon in September and the excitement was palpable in the Hengyang Care Centre courtyard. It was the day of the Big Dance Party competition.
The concept of having a dance party was birthed out of a need. The morning dance time in Hengyang needed some refreshment and new life. Every day at 8:15 am the music goes on in the courtyard, and staff and children gather for dance. But after several years of the same songs and dances it had all become a bit familiar and was a little lacking in flavour.
Grandma Hilda came up with a solution. We could organise a competition where each floor chose music, designed a dance, and competed for prizes. In Chinese culture dance holds a special place, and so when the dance competition was proposed the staff were super excited, and preparations started.
Guidelines on suitable dance entries stated that they needed simplicity, inclusivity, energy and creativity. Each floor got to work on designing a dance, and we started to see them being practiced in the craft rooms, homes and courtyard.
On the day of the competition each team was dressed in their team colour. The first floor kicked off the competition in green. This floor provides homes to the children with very high needs, so each adult danced with a child in a wheelchair. The interaction between staff and children in the dance was incredibly touching. Ling Ling’s face lit up as she joined in the dance, Ding Ding smiled shyly at his therapist who was dancing with him, holding her arms above her to make the shape of a heart while she looked straight into his eyes.
The second floor team danced in white. This is the Hengyang Care Centre’s youngest residents. They danced to a song going through their body parts, clapping their hands, wiggling their bottoms and lifting their shoulders. Guilu, a four-year-old with Down syndrome, stamped and clapped and wiggled along with her housemates as kindy teacher Li danced in front of them, encouraging their participation. While the toddlers on foot danced, caregivers danced with the children in wheelchairs, and the crowd was delighted at the cuteness in front of them.
When the fifth floor boys burst onto the floor we were all stopped in our tracks to watch them. They won the overall highest marks for their flag and fan dance celebrating strength and bravery. Feng and Uncle Cheng did a powerful job of the introduction, banging on the big drums calling everyone to join. It was artistic and hugely creative; and so amazing to see the boys involved in something so moving.
That wonderful day, celebrating dance and colour and music is a strong memory in our minds and hearts. The goal of reenergising our morning dance was met. The set of songs each morning is the same as that day, and the staff and children remember the moves. There is energy, there is life, and there is so much more interaction between the staff and children during dance time. And joy is abundant!