Dancing Portraits is a commission that celebrates The Dance Network Association’s RE:Generation group working together for six years. The group’s sessions are open to residents from CHP housing schemes in Chelmsford, as well as anyone over the age of 50 within the area. The group meet once a week to learn about the importance of movement and dance in older age, and its effects on the brain and body.

The RE:Generation group is just one of the remarkable projects run by Gemma Wright at The Dance Network Association. To find more information about their work please visithttp://www.dancenetworkassociation.org.uk

This project is for the dancers, celebrating six years of achievements they’ve made for themselves. They’re stronger, fitter, some have lost weight. They are building confidence and self esteem because they are part of something significant, where each individual is important to the process and each other.

The RE:Generation group are staying active, however they also remember, learn and accurately execute all of the movements within set exercises and routines. The social time after each weekly class helps the group to communicate and gel together, and form relationships that extend beyond the classes.

At the beginning of the six month project it was important to meet and spend time with the dancers during and after their session, to observe how they worked and interacted with each other. It was clear the class gives them a solid weekly event where they could form a network of people, gain friends and fight isolation.

Photographs and life drawings were undertaken during the visits, and further drawings and experiments were made from this information to build a sketchbook of ideas. The imagery within the sketchbook aided the development of a dance piece which was performed as part of Spring Blast 2019 at The Civic Theatre, Chelmsford.

Three dancers were chosen for the main focus of the portraits. They were sketched out onto panel and a jigsaw was used to cut around the silhouettes. The lower edge of the portraits were cut into geometric shapes to reflect the modern, fresh and funky attitude of the participants, their dance routines and the music they dance to in the classes.

Painting skin tone and textures requires several built up layers to achieve a sense of depth. Often, we see sitters hold a rather serious, curious or neutral expression however the smiles of the dancers have brought a sense of energy and positivity to the paintings. The layers of figures within the paintings are based on the photographs of the group in action, with some fantastic shapes thrown within the routines.

About RE:Generation:

RE:Generation is The Dance Network Association’s work with older communities, specifically those over the age of 50. They are currently working in partnership with CHP housing, Brentwood Borough Council and MOAT Foundation in order to introduce their communities to dance. Classes deliver dance content that questions, mobilises and above all offers older people a safe environment to practice a shared endeavour. Participants learn the importance of movement and dance in older age and its effects on the brain and body, as well as being guided in how to adapt material for varying disabilities. All of this is topped off with time for tea, biscuits and a chat at the end of each sessions to ensure we speak with our neighbours and friends, so that no one ever feels alone.

Please call Emma Meek on 07561267332 or email emma@dancenetworkassociation.org.uk to find out more or to book onto a class.