Dance For Wellbeing

Dance for Wellbeing

Dance for Wellbeing

Ricochet: Dance for All
Offbeat: Dance for People with Parkinson’s
Vivacity: Dance for People with Dementia

An initiative of Belconnen Arts Centre, the Dance for Wellbeing program is supported by ACT Health and is enabling us to provide regular dance classes for ACT communities with Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis and other chronic conditions.

There is a growing body of medical evidence strongly validating the importance of exercise in the maintenance of our wellbeing – physically, cognitively and socially. Dance ticks all those boxes in one fun package, and with a strong underpinning philosophy of accessibility and arts for all, Belconnen Arts Centre is pioneering these programs in the ACT.

People with health challenges, plus family, carers and friends are very welcome to participate in the weekly classes, led by a team of inspiring and experienced dance tutors.

Dance at home!

These six exercises are taken from the Dance for Wellbeing program and are inspired by a range of dance genres, including contemporary, classical ballet, musical theatre, folk and cultural dance, and anything in-between! Simply click on the icon in the top left of the video screen to select which exercise video you would like to play. You may turn subtitles/captions on or off by clicking the button marked CC in the bottom right corner of the video player.

Before you start dancing, please note:
1. Ideally, check with your doctor first for a thumbs up.
2. Check you have a clear space at home where you can practice these dances; a solid chair – preferably without arm-rests; and a non-slip floor.
3. Each exercise is taught slowly, guiding you through the movements, and then it is danced at a faster pace with music.
4. Take things at your pace. You might do a little every day, or once a month; you choose.
5. If anything causes pain or discomfort, discontinue or modify it to suit you.
6. If you feel tired, rest, have a sip of water and start again when you feel ready. 
7. We recommend you follow the order suggested below, starting with a warm up and finishing with a cool down.

Exercises are demonstrated by dance tutors Jacqui Simmonds, Jane Ingall, Debora di Centa and Gretel Burgess, with thanks to Red Desert Productions and APRA AMCOS.

About the tutors >

Philip Piggin

Philip Piggin | Program Coordinator

Philip has taught, lectured, choreographed, directed and performed for arts, educational and community groups (with and without disabilities) and has served on the boards of various arts funding authorities. He was a Community Dance Animateur in Wales, and also worked on dance and disability programs with the UK-based Common Ground Sign Dance Theatre, a company of deaf and hearing dancers. Since moving to Canberra in 1999, he has worked extensively in the education sector and with Ausdance ACT, as well as 10 years with Canberra Dance Theatre, on programs for dancers of all abilities, ages and experience levels.

With the support of a Churchill Fellowship awarded in 2014, Philip now pioneers dance programs for people with Parkinson’s, Dementia and other chronic conditions in his role as Creative Program Officer at Belconnen Arts Centre. In 2016, he was awarded an Honorary Life Membership with People Dancing, a UK community dance organisation, and in 2017 he was shortlisted for a “Services to Dance” award at the Australian Dance Awards.


Gretel BurgessGretel Burgess

With a Bachelor of Communication in Theatre/Media and a Masters in Social Work, Gretel brings a wealth of dance experience and passion to BAC. As well as winning a scholarship to study and completing a certificate in Theatre and Dance at Sekolalah Tinggi Seni (Advanced School for the Arts) in Indonesia, Gretel has taught many different cultural and community groups, such as asylum seekers on Christmas Island, refugees with the Multicultural Council in Darwin, children and teens with Down Syndrome and adults with acute brain injury and complex needs through ARC Disability Services and Regis Aged Care in Cairns.

Gretel has worked with Canberra Youth TheatreCanberra Dance Theatre, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts Darwin, PACT Youth Theatre Sydney and NIDA holiday programs. Recently, she has been teaching Afro-Funk at Canberra Dance Theatre and choreographing performances for their GOLD dance company, as well as running workshops for Ausdance and Ghawazee Moon Bellydance.


Debora di CentaDebora di Centa

Debora began dancing both ballet and contemporary Graham technique in 1986, progressing to teaching in 2004. She acquired a Diploma in Dance Studies from the Scuola di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala di Milano (La Scala Theatre Ballet School in Milan) and a Specialist Diploma in Choreological Studies from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.

Since 2010, Debora has collaborated extensively with some of the most well-respected dance specialists and dance collectives across Europe, such as Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Rosemary Brandt and Alison Curtis-Jones, and is now pursuing further professional development around Australia, New Zealand and the US. She teaches, performs, choreographs and directs for Ausdance ACT, Dance Development Centre Canberra, Canberra Collective and Belconnen Arts Centre. She presents personal works through ISEMS Projects, and closed out 2017 with a sold-out performance at Belconnen Arts Centre, Debora di Centa in December.


Jane Ingall

Jane Ingall

With a love for connecting people with the dancer in themselves and the possibilities revealed in movement, Jane’s approach to dance encourages anyone, no matter their age, ability or dance experience.

With a background in occupational therapy, a Bachelor of Anthropology and a Grad Dip in Movement and Dance, Jane’s understanding of human movement and motivation informs her dance work.

She has been teaching dance for people with Parkinson’s since 2014, co-choreographing classes and performances with Phillip Piggin, and was part of the Australian Dance Award-winning Great Sport! performance at the National Museum of Australia.

Jane has been with Canberra Dance Theatre since 2006 and founded CDTeens, a dance program for teens with disabilities. For Jane, her Parents, Tinies and Toddlers classes are an ongoing delight.



Jacqueline Simmonds

Jacqueline Simmonds

Jacqui has been involved in dance education for over three decades, developing and directing tertiary dance qualifications at the University of Western Sydney and Australian College of Physical Education. Jacqui’s teaching philosophy is underpinned by research in somatic practices and dance as a community art; she is a qualified Iyengar Yoga instructor and has completed the Feldenkrais teacher training course. Her publications include Dancers and Communities: A Collection of Writings about Dance as a Community Art (edited by Helen Poynor) and Somdance Manual, co-authored with Greg Holdaway and Zoran Kovich.

Jacqui has served as President of Ausdance NSW; Chair of the Arts NSW Dance Committee; Chair of the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia; and as a member of the NSW HSC Dance Examination Committee. She is currently a member of the Ausdance National Board, the Artistic Coordinator for Canberra Dance Theatre and the Co-Artistic Director for Canberra Dance Theatre’s GOLD company. She also teaches at Canberra Yoga Space.

More info >

Contact Creative Program Officer, Philip Piggin, via email or on (02) 6173 3300.

The Dance for Wellbeing program is an initiative of Belconnen Arts Centre, and is funded by ACT Health and supported by Parkinson’s ACT. Thanks also to Musica Viva AustraliaCanberra Theatre CentreLorna Sim Photography, Ausdance ACT and the National Health Co-op.