Emily works in a capacity that develops dance in the wider cultural sector, facilitating dance experiences and creating opportunities for dance engagement.
She has a special interest in offering dance to people who are disadvantaged, and strives to take it into unexplored contexts where it has potential to affect significant change. She promotes dance for all, and works hard to remove barriers that prevent participation.
Dance is a fundamental component of our society which encourages interaction and human connection. As a powerful form of communication, it is an effective tool for social development which Emily has explored with, and independently of, dance organisations.
These images are from a production called Is This a Waste Land? which invites audiences onto disused urban sites to question space, waste and belonging. Created by Charlotte Spencer Projects, Emily worked with Charlotte to tour the piece in 2017, stimulating thoughts and discussions about our rapidly changing urban landscapes and people’s sense of community.
Photos by Emily Jenkins
Emily works with innovative concepts and applies intellectual rigour to her creative processes.
Her practice is centred around connection;
To the art form, as a creative and physical form of self expression
To the self, to encourage a greater understanding of, and enjoyment in, the body
To others, to build social cohesion and meaningful relationships through positive, shared experience
This approach means that creativity, physicality and community are at the heart of her work, providing person centred and high quality artistic experiences.
She likes to experiment with dance, using choreographic tasks and improvisation techniques to uncover participants’ own movement language. She also places a strong focus on rhythm and release, finding freedom in the body and shifting through space.
Above all she offers dance in a way that is fun and meaningful, which has the potential to bring you closer to yourself as well as to others.
“For dance isn’t a particular way of moving, it’s a frame of mind. Or perhaps a frame of body-mind. A way of being that reveals, affects and even changes how we feel about ourselves and each other.”
- Penny Greenland, 2000, What Dancers Do that Health Workers Don’t
Photos by Camilla Greenwell
An innovative dance project helping women affected by cancer to reconnect with their bodies and access group support.
Emily created Move Dance Feel in 2016 and has since been working in partnership with leading cancer support organisations across London to integrate dance into their activity programmes; Bromley by Bow Centre with Macmillan Social Prescribing, Maggie’s Barts and Paul’s Cancer Support Centre.
The project offers free, weekly dance sessions centred around artistic practice, where women come together to dance instead of talk about their cancer experience.
“Move Dance Feel has provided a wonderful outlet for self expression and creativity, which I have found to be very healing.”
Research has revealed significant benefits of dance in this context, helping participants to feel more positive, confident, active and able.
Physical expression and creative exchange gives rise to strong social relationships, which helps participants manage challenges and reduces feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Evidence shows that Move Dance Feel achieves greater wellbeing and can combat some of the negative side effects of cancer treatment, such as alleviating feelings of fatigue and improving body confidence.
“I come feeling tired and I leave feeling like I have more energy!”
Click HERE to view the April 2019 Service Evaluation report, detailing research findings.
In January 2018 an article about Move Dance Feel was published by People Dancing: Animated Magazine which you can read HERE. People Dancing is the UK’s development organisation for Community Dance.
“When you have cancer, you lose touch with your body. It becomes unfamiliar - even worse, it starts to feel as if it is an enemy. For me, dancing started to bring me back to my own body and its energy, strength and basic joyfulness.”
Photos by Camilla Greenwell
Interested in the relationship between dance and early childhood development, Emily works with families and young children. She uses dance to support children’s physical and emotional growth, to enhance their communication skills, and to strengthen connections between adult and child.
She works with sophisticated themes that creatively stimulate both adult and child, and promotes kinaesthetic learning through dance.
Emily has led training at the Institute of Education teaching students how to incorporate dance into the primary school curriculum, using it to enhance pupils learning in English, Maths and Science. She also has an interest in delivering workshops centred around English language for families who are non native speakers.
In Summer 2018 she delivered a programme called Poetry in Motion for Watermans Arts Centre, teaching poetry through dance and movement.
Throughout 2016 and 2017 she worked for Active Families, a project set up by Dance Network Association to examine the social impacts of creative dance for children under the age of 5 with their families. Aiming to tackle social isolation and cultural segregation, research outcomes from the project showed that dance has the ability to transcend cultural, social and economic challenges that participants face, bringing them together to feel emotionally, physically and mentally connected.
Emily works closely with artist Louise Klarnett, specialist in early years dance work, who has influenced her practice in this area.
Photos by Rachel Cherry
Emily facilitates dance sessions and creates projects for older adults, aged 50 and above.
For many years she has worked with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as an artist on their Inspired Not Tired programme. Trinity Laban is a training institute, and one of the leading organisations in London for community, participatory dance and health work.
“Emily has a warm and caring approach towards us all, and at the same time introduces challenging ideas that give us great insight into the power and meaning of dance.”
- Inspired Not Tired participant
She curated Trinity Laban’s September Series in 2017, programming two weeks of bespoke workshops specifically for older adults, and offers both creative dance and technique classes for this age group. Emily also leads training in this area, and delivered Trinity Laban’s Creativity and the Older Dancer professional development day.
“Emily is a beautiful dancer and many participants comment on how inspiring it is to see and move with her. She has a strong creative mind and much experience in delivering sessions of a period of time to encourage development of skills.”
- Stella Howard, Dance Practitioner for Trinity Laban
Emily also works for English National Ballet on their Dance and Health programme, delivering sessions in deprived areas of East London with a view to improve older adults’ wellbeing, physical health and mobility, and reduce feelings of isolation.
“I’ve never found good friends more rapidly than in this class”
- Participant, English National Ballet
Photos by Belinda Lawley
Emily facilitates dance sessions for people with neurological disorders and brain injury, which focus on musicality and creative methods of communication.
From 2015 to 2019 she was resident Dance Artist at Stones End, an Age UK Day Centre, where she facilitated weekly sessions for adults with a variety of neurological conditions. The complex mental coordination that dance requires activates several brain regions, which has been known to improve memory.
Emily has worked for Stroke Odysseys, a music and dance programme designed to reduce anxiety and depression in people who are living with the effects of having a stroke. The project is delivered in community settings with outpatients, and in hospitals with inpatients on stroke rehabilitation wards.
As music and dance simultaneously combines physical and cognitive stimulation, it can have a positive effect on neuroplasticity, which is the brains ability to create new neural pathways.
Between 2015 and 2017 she worked for Rambert offering dance to people with dementia. Family members and carers also participated in the sessions, which helped them to meet and build friendships with others in their situation.
Hands image by Angelo Cordeschi
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”
- Albert Einstein
To inspire creative movement Emily draws from a range of artistic stimuli, often in the form of photography and that which captures patterns in nature.
She finds that many elements of dance, such as size, shape, projection and orientation are regularly reflected in our surroundings, be that natural or man made.
Using the environment and other artistic stimulus to springboard into dance enables greater range of expression and presents intriguing choreographic possibilities.
In 2018 Emily choreographed a piece using images by photographer Andreas Gursky, and explored his composition of aggregate states - a structure formed by a mass of fragments loosely compacted together.
“I’m not interested in the particular place but what it says about the world today”
- Andreas Gursky
Emily feels passionately about sharing dance practice and disseminating research findings in order to advance the art form.
Due to her success in the area of Dance and Health, she often speaks at conferences and events about her experiences, highlighting the benefits of dance in this context.
She has presented work both nationally and internationally, including France, Russia and Ireland.
As much of her work encompasses practice based research, Emily presents through lecture demonstrations as well as informational talks.
Seeking to develop dance in social and health sectors, she has facilitated workshops for health care professionals in hospitals, cancer care Centres and hospices.
Emily has recently presented at the London Cancer Psychosocial Forum, at the Movement and Mental Health Association of Social Anthropologists conference in Oxford, and at Barts Health NHS Trust staff away day. She also hosted a Move Dance Feel Symposium in April 2019 to publicly share the latest research outcomes.
May: Leading a Move Dance Feel workshop at Shine Connect Conference
June: Delivering a talk for staff at the Royal Marsden Hospital as part of London Creativity and Wellbeing Week
July: Leading a Move Dance Feel workshop at Trew Fields, the UKs first cancer awareness and holistic health festival
October: Presenting at IADMS annual conference in Montreal
November: Presenting at Penny Brohn UKs annual conference, ‘Because I Need More than Medicine’
Photos by Emily Jenkins and Ben Joseph
The two films on this page are:
1. A Move Dance Feel documentary, where participants share their experiences of the project. Move Dance Feel offers dance sessions to women affected by cancer, and this film was made in 2019 to highlight the benefits of dance in this context.
2. A duet made as part of the Stroke Odysseys project, featuring Emily Jenkins and Liz Mansfield. It was filmed at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, directed by Magali Charrier, for the Rosetta Life production of Hospital Passion Play, a performance delivered in collaboration with Garsington Opera and programmed as part of Opera: Politics and Passion at the Victoria and Albert Museum in October 2017.
As an experienced and compassionate artist, Emily offers educational workshops and practical mentoring so that others can dance and learn alongside her.
She runs an artist training programme though Move Dance Feel, sharing knowledge and elements of practice that are specific to working with dance in the context of cancer diagnosis and recovery.
She is also a mentor for Trinity Laban’s Dance and Health Learning Group, and has acted as an adviser for students on their Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dance course.
In 2018 she was invited by Switch2Move, a Netherlands based dance company, to deliver a professional development project in St Petersburg. She worked with a mixed group of professional dancers, choreographers, circus performers and social workers to share knowledge about Community Dance, and demonstrate its potential within health contexts.
Photos by Евгений Пронин and Camilla Greenwell
1. A brief insight into Dance and Health work both in the UK and internationally, written for the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS):
Whilst the benefits of dance as a physical activity are widely known, it is perhaps the components of dance that transcend physical activity which render it an effective, holistic movement form capable of improving our global health. As a physical means of self expression dance enables communication, both internally reinforcing mind and body unity, and externally promoting social cohesion.
Read the full blog post HERE
When going through cancer treatment the body is surrendered, handed over to doctors and controlled by the cancer itself. This can cause a degree of trauma to the body, whereby sensory and emotional connections to it become damaged and in some cases severed. What dance offers in this context is a means of returning to the body and reclaiming control, taking back ownership and in the process reigniting lost connections.
Read the full article HERE
3. A blog post for Shine Cancer Support, a UK charity that is exclusively focused on supporting people in their 20s, 30s and 40s with cancer.
We are all capable of dancing, despite the self-conscious mind telling us otherwise. Far too often people concern themselves with the aesthetics of dance: how it looks, rather than how it feels.
Read the full blog post HERE
4. A poem written by Mary Powell - a participant of Move Dance Feel:
“When my husband Richard was diagnosed with a Grade 4, glioblastoma in April 2017, our lives changed overnight and the future became fore-shortened to a day at a time. The kind staff at Paul’s Cancer Support Centre encouraged me to try out Move Dance Feel to help with stress.
After one term of dancing, I wrote this poem. A snow day being a metaphor for a dance day; a day of freedom, like the days when school got cancelled and all the children were freed by the snow, to move and play. It is a day of renewal, connection to the self, in spirit, mind and body and a connection to others, that is beyond words.
The care, support and wisdom we experience at Move Dance Feel gives us courage and strength to keep going, and I therefore dedicate this poem to my dancing sisters.”
On a snow day I see beyond the self conscious, only of silence.
Its eerie stillness and weighty dark on the dormer above and lo!
The garden is whited and the sky scurries.
What of the cold when I unlatch the door,
on a world transforming and gasp at the blast
that burns the breath in my lungs and gathers beneath me.
Nothing moves in the ghosting snow
but I am moving into deepening white
shoeless and wild arming snow from piling walls
becoming the snow flying and fragmenting in the air
knowing that no one has wandered this mad proliferating night
and I do as I please, flying all at once hither and thither
and that yelp that fills the air with joy is mine
in these moments of drift in and out of the hereafter
for this day is not that awful day.
This day is here, always here,
like a single one moment between a tic and a tock
elasticising its eternity as if it were my one holy life
resounding over and over…