Company Chameleon and Déda take dance to mental health patients in hospital in Derby.

Company Chameleon and Déda take dance to mental health patients in hospital in Derby.

On Friday 19th May, patients at the Radbourne Unit, a mental health care unit in Derby, can look forward to a visit from touring dance theatre company, Company Chameleon. The Manchester-based Company, which tours the world performing, is visiting the unit to perform and deliver a dance workshop.

Presented in partnership with Déda, the workshop coincides with Company Chameleon’s performance of production Witness, which is on at Déda, Derby’s creative centre for dance, contemporary circus and outdoor work, on Thursday 18th May.

Witness, which explores mental health issues, draws from the personal experience of Choreographer, Kevin Edward Turner, who is Co-Founder of Company Chameleon and who will devise and deliver the workshop at the Radbourne Unit.

Kevin, who has Bipolar Disorder, experienced his own mental health crisis in 2013 when he was sectioned.  Following on, he himself received treatment in a specialist mental health unit.  Kevin hopes this personal experience will give him the understanding to connect with patients at the hospital, so that they feel the full benefits from taking part in the workshop. 

Kevin says: “I hope to create a space where the people feel comfortable enough to express and share some of their own experiences.  This doesn’t have to be through words, it can be through the dance or movement that they create.  Movement changes the way you feel, it feels good to concentrate on your body and to feel the blood pumping around as you move.  Also, sharing how you feel is a positive thing as it helps you better understand what you’re going through. I hope the people in the workshop get lots of things from it, but mostly I hope we catch a smile, a joke and that everyone enjoys it.”

Dance is a tried and tested method in helping to alleviate mental health problems as it can help you express and manage feelings that might otherwise be overwhelming. This is one of the reasons that mental health is an important theme in Déda’s programme.

Clare Limb, Déda’s Head of Learning & Dance Development says: “The activities that we have organised complement the performance of Witness and are part of a wider Arts and Health programme delivered by Déda’s Dance Development and Learning Team. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Radbourne Unit and look forward to this being a starting point for an exciting partnership going forward.”

Kevin from Company Chameleon adds: “When I look back at my time in hospital, the more positive experiences were when people came in to do things with us.  We did a drumming workshop one time and a drawing workshop another.  I’m not a drummer and I’m not the best drawer in the world but I really enjoyed the sessions. I found them therapeutic as they gave me something to focus on other than the fact I was unwell in hospital.  On a personal level, it feels like my own journey is coming full circle, and it feels good to be able to offer a positive experience to people who are suffering, perhaps in a similar way to how I was.”

The Radbourne Unit is run by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across Derby and Derbyshire. Hannah Burton, Service Manager for the Radbourne Campus, says: “We are very excited that Company Chameleon have chosen to come and deliver a dance workshop at the Radbourne Unit. We try to offer lots of different ways to support people in their recovery from mental ill health, including a range of physical activities, and this dance workshop will complement our approach really well. With Kevin leading the workshop, and bringing his experience and understanding of mental health, we are confident that the participants will benefit greatly from the session.”      

The dance workshop with Company Chameleon takes place at the Radbourne Unit on the morning of Friday 19th May.

Witness will be performed by Company Chameleon at Déda on Thursday 18 May. Tickets are priced £12, £10 concessions and can be booked online at 

A post-show discussion will take place after the performance, in which Kevin will be joined by the cast, Déda staff and Arts and Health representatives for a Q&A session.

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