3 Rhythm Beats (dementia) Blues Workshops confirmed for New Zealand.

Sitdance is pleased to announce that thus far 3 ‘Rhythm Beats (dementia) Blues’ workshops have been confirmed:

  • 27 March: for members of the North Shore Diversional Therapy Support Group only
  • 4 April:  1-3 pm. Moera Community Centre, Lower Hutt, Open to general public $30 p.p. Contact Marcel through the contact form on this website for bookings. Reservations essential.
  • 7 April: for members of the Wellington Diversional Therapy Support Group only.

There is still an opportunity for a workshop in Auckland or Hamilton on the 28 March.

If interested contact Marcel a.s.a.p.

For the Workshop trailer visit: https://youtu.be/Owl5o_EEiYM

Your Digital Nomad featuring in Dutch magazine ‘Zin’

Below is the English translation of an interview for the Dutch magazine ‘Zin’.

“For two years I travelled in a van through the Australian Outback”

In 2015 Marcel Baaijens (1956), left his job as art educator to become a digital nomad.

“ I feel at home in many places. Today I will arrive in Paris, and two days later I will travel to Greece, with no idea of where I will go next.

A digital nomad can work anywhere: like next to the Eiffel Tower.

I traveled all my life, but took the plunge to become a digital nomad on May 5th, 2015 (Dutch Liberation Day). A few years earlier I became seriously ill with mercury poisoning. Healing from mercury poisoning is a slow process that can take at least 5 years. Doing that while working full-time was extremely challenging. Maintaining my job as an art educator was no longer sustainable. I resigned and rekindled a dormant project, Sitdance.

Sitdance offers seated dance programme for elders in aged care facilities, and DVD-based resources for activities staff. This work does not require me to stay in any particular location. I bought a second-hand van to travel through the Outback of Australia, and wrote, composed, produced, filmed, and edited the ‘Sitdance Downunder’ and ‘Dance to Remember’ programmes.

Travelling through the outback gave me a different perspective on life.

Since April 2017 I am producing further programmes for which I need to travel through Europe, without a van. I stay mainly with family, friends, and use guesthouses and AirBnB’s. I have no idea what my future will hold, all I know is that I will continue this lifestyle for a little while longer.”

Footnote: This interview took place in October 2017. At the moment I am spending 5 months in Australia in a different van, promoting Sitdance. I will also visit New Zealand and Nepal before returning to Europe in May for the remainder of 2018.

3 ‘Rhythm Beats (dementia) Blues’ workshops scheduled for Melbourne.

Lifestyle Coordinators in Melbourne: 3 ‘Rhythm Beats (dementia) Blues’ workshops have been scheduled for the Melbourne area. They are held by aged care facilities in Hawthorn, Werribee, and Geelong. If you are interested in attending let me know and I will connect you to the organisers. If you want to organise a 2-hour workshop yourself, get in touch a.s.a.p. I will be in the Melbourne area till early February, after which I will travel to Canberra, Sydney, New Zealand, and back to New South Wales, before heading to Europe in May.
 
‘Rhythm Beats (Dementia) Blues’ enables family members and care volunteer/staff of those with advanced dementia to establish a non-verbal, meaningful, connection and interaction using rhythm. The technique is beneficial for both the receiver, the giver, and their relationship. See this short trailer for more. https://youtu.be/Owl5o_EEiYM

Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues Technique

‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ Technique
by Marcel Baaijens

Rhythm is first experienced in the womb and one of the last memories to go. It is a non-verbal ‘language’ we can use to connect and interact with people with advanced dementia, especially at a time when verbal communication is diminishing. Applied as a simple dance the technique activates voice, body and soul.

Music and songs provide a structure and lifts spirits. Simple hand dances provide physical connection, a meaningful occupation of time and expression to music. ‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ is beneficial to both giver and receiver. It will bring joy to family visits and caring situations.

The ‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ technique combines principles of Base Stimulation, Holistic Pulsing, and Sitdance to effectively establish human interactions and meaningful connections. It is person-centred, intuitive, and easy to learn.

A 2-hour workshop with creator Marcel Baaijens will teach you the ‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ principles and empower you to put the technique into practice. Workshops are available on request. To request a workshop or find out if one is held near you visit www.sitdance.com or the Sitdance Facebook page or contact Marcel through the contact form of this site.

Marcel is currently travelling through Australia and is available for ‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ workshops and Sitdance sessions. His travel schedule is roughly as follows:

2018

Jan-mid Feb: Greater Melbourne area

Late Feb: South of Sydney

March: North of Sydney + Central Coast + Tamworth + Gold Coast + Brisbane

April: New Zealand

May: The Netherlands

About the Workshop:

1. Workshop content:
• Arriving, intention setting, warming-up, loosening-up
• Appreciating a half full glass
• How to approach and connect with someone non-verbally
• Person centered approach: learning to ‘read’ body language
• The basics of rhythms
• The basics of music and songs
• Sensing limitations and possibilities
• Practice
• Questions
• Evaluation

2. Workshop objectives:
• The workshop will teach the basic skills from the various disciplines that make up ‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ technique
• The workshop is experiential in nature, meaning you get to experience the technique first hand, so the learning experience will be stored in both brain and muscle memory
• The workshop will empower you to implement the technique using your own choice of music as deemed suitable for the person you will be engaging with.

3. Workshop outcomes:
• You will know how to approach a person with advanced dementia for the purpose of a ‘Rhythm Beat (dementia) Blues’ session
• You will know how to use non-verbally cues to determine what to do next as part of a person-centred approach
• You will know how music and songs can be used to establish a meaningful interaction and connection between yourself and somebody with advanced dementia
• You will know how to intuitively ascertain the limitations and possibilities of a session.

4. Workshop facilitator Marcel Baaijens

Marcel Baaijens is a multi-creative Dutch New Zealander. He is a certified dance tutor (LBV Cert. Netherlands), a qualified art educator (M.A.A.E. School of the Art Institute, Chicago) and architect (MSc in Architecture, University of Delft, Netherlands). He also trained in Holistic Pulsing, a New Zealand healing modality, Interactive Drawing Therapy (a New Zealand client centered art therapy modality) and Dementia Essentials, Dementia Training Australia.

Marcel has over 30 years experience as a dance and art educator. He is the Founder, Developer, and Director of Sitdance, (world-wide), Founder, Developer, and Coordinator of the world’s first inclusive tertiary art education programme, (New Zealand), and Founder, Developer, and Director of innovative art programmes in New Zealand, Slovakia, and U.S.A.

Marcel dedicates his life to provide access to dance and art to those with limited access with the aim to offer participants opportunities for self-expression and wellbeing. He works globally. He is a keen photographer. You can follow his journeys, stories and photography through the Nontropolis and Sitdance Facebook pages and websites.

Waltzing Matilda LipDub opportunity

I have a great idea for an iconic Waltzing Matilda LipDub for an aged care facility. This will be a great activity for residents and staff, a great team-building opportunity and wonderful PR video for your facility or Corporate Group your facility may belong to. I expect that the production will take two days (rehearsals 1 day and shoot second day). If you don’t know what a LipDub is, have a look at the example below. It will be soo much fun, boost self-esteem and fulfil age old dreams of becoming a movie star. I will choreograph, direct, shoot and edit the lip dub. You may need to provide some props and the people. It will be an exclusive one-off choreography.

My availability: weekends and Christmas period
Till Christmas: Adelaide area
Xmas-mid feb: Greater Melbourne area
Late Feb-early March: Sydney and Central Coast
Late March: Gold coast/ Brisbane

If you are interested message me :).

Sample of a LipDub (not by me) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebD_drWYVaI&t=60s

Rhythm Beats (dementia) Blues

Most people travel from A to B, Tomorrow I will travel from A to A: Amsterdam to Adelaide. I will begin a 4 months tour of urban Australia (ADL,MEL,SYD, BNE) to promote Dance to Remember and offer short evening courses in the band new ‘Rhythm Beats (dementia) Blues’ methodology. In the video below you can see me in action during an improvised afternoon of music, singing and dancing in a Greek care home on the island of Syros, Greece. If you are interested in a demo session, or training or the Dance to remember DVD, get in touch. I would love to hear from you. https://youtu.be/4oNwsAhzZxs

Sitdance: Behind the scenes in Brittany, France.

Filming Sitdance tutorials is not as easy as it looks. Many aspects need to come together to film a tutorial. Have a quick look behind the scenes in a small market town in Brittany, France. Brittany is one of the six Celtic nations on the edge of Europe where I have been filming for the ‘Sitdance with the Celts’ programme.

50 Dutch cousins and a stray Romanian Sitdance in Amsterdam

Oh, my cousins do know how to throw a party, so I challenged them to do a Sitdance with me, and they did: in front of one of my cousin’s cafe in Amsterdam. They had a blast. This sitdance ‘ Tulips from Amsterdam’ was specially made for them as our parents, aunts and uncles are all from Amsterdam. A romanian guy watching us having fun could not resist to join us!

Dinner with a legend.

Oh where do I begin to tell the story an unforgettable night with the 80-year old Kosovar legend Ismet Peja and his wonderful son Vegim.

From left to right: Vegim Peja, Ismet Peja and Marcel Baaijens.

I have known a popular Kosovar song ‘Martese Jone’, by Ismet for some 35 years now. It has been part of my ‘cultural make-up’ as much any song of my native culture. To meet this man after a two-year search was a highlight of an already wonderful visit in this unknown part of the world called Kosovo.
 
Ismet does not speak English, but his son did briliantly. We had so much to talk about, all equally curious about each other’s life story and journeys. We laughed so much. This man has, besides an amazing career as a singer, an amazing spirit. His 50-year old son, a doctor, but also a traditional singer, is a true son of his father. To witness the loving, joyful interaction of the two a was a treat in itself.
  
Details of traditional Kosovar wedding dresses. Courtesy of Mona Lisa, wedding dress shop, Pristina, Kosovo.
Ismet still sings today. His song, Martese Jone, especially composed for him, is like a classic sung at  Albanian/Kosovar weddings. It has been covered by many contemporary artists, but in my view none are as good as Ismet’s version. At 80, Ismet still sings at weddings. He has taken good care of his voice by never drinking or smoking, eating right, and sticking to a regular sleeping pattern. 
 
We spend a night at a local restaurant. Sometimes interrupted by other diners and the restaurant owner wanting to pay their respects. I so wished I could have filmed the whole night, as it was so special and rich, but it just did not feel appropriate. I did take a selfie  at the end though.
You can find videos of Ismet performing online. Just search Youtube for Smet Peja, or his son Visar Peja to enjoy their music (if it is your cup of tea of course).
Bride’s crown. Courtesy of Mona Lisa, wedding dress shop, Pristina, Kosovo.
I will use Martese Jone, Albanian for ‘Our Marriage’ for a Sitdance. The tutorials have already been filmed in a traditional Wedding dress shop. I trust that this Ismet’s amazing voice will encourage and inspire the elders who take part in Sitdance to dance to their hearts content. Music is an international language, its vibration has the power to resonate with our souls. This ability resonance is what makes us feel human, no matter what life’s circumstances might be.
Video still of the ‘Our Marriage’ Sitdance.
‘Our Marriage’ will feature in the ‘Sitdance through Europe’ programme, expected to be released in 2018. It is a Sitdance journey from Armenia in the far southeast to Scotland in the far northwestern corner of the continent. The link below is for Martese Jone (Our Marriage) performed by Ismet Peja.  (https://youtu.be/oB4OKTHH_Rk) I feel privileged to have been granted permission to use this song for Sitdance. I am invited to return next year to Kosovo and be Ismet’s guest and see him in action during the wedding season. Can’t wait!

Getting ready for Kosovo.

Ismet Peja performing on television.
Tomorrow I will fly to Nis (Serbia), to get to neighbouring Kosovo. The main reason is to film a Sitdance tutorial there and to meet Ismet Peja, the singer of the song I am using for the sitdance. After a 2-years search I have been able to trace him. He is now 81, his son Vegim 60 is also a singer. Luckily Vegim speaks English as my knowledge of Albanian (most common language in Kosovo) is zero. I am really looking forward to meet them. I learned a choreographed, traditional style dance called Bracno Oro to this music, some decades ago and have loved it ever since. The sitdance will express the essence of the song as well as the dance. The title ‘Martesa Jone’ means our marriage, and if you google it you will find many Youtube clips of people singing it at weddings.
 
Kosovo has experienced war and instability. It has declared independence in 2008 from Serbia and is Europe’s newest country. Not quite recognised by all yet, but it is safe to travel there. Guess what my biggest concern is? Not the political situation, but the fact that I won’t have mobile services as I transit Serbia to get to Kosovo, as it will require yet another (Serbian) sim card. I will need one in Kosovo as the roaming charges of my UK one are just outrageously expensive. So I will have to find my way around the old fashioned way: with maps and asking people :).
 
Who would have thought that one would worry about mobile connection above anything else, say 30 years ago LOL. Below is a link to the video clip of Smet Peja performing the song on television.
https://youtu.be/oB4OKTHH_Rk

A journey of languages

Above is the longest place name in the world: It is Welsh and has 58 letters and many double or even quadruple consonants in a row! The top tongue twister place name I have come across.

Since I left Australia in April I crossed many languages zones, some familiar, others total alien to me.

After I left Australia I had a short stop in Malaysia on my way to Nepal. Bahasa Malaysia I cannot claim to speak, but I can read some of the menu, and speak some basic words, because it is similar to Indonesian, where I have spend some time in the past.

I have been to Nepal many times, so the sound of Nepalese (related to Hindi) is familiar and I can say some basic words to get by. Tibetan was also spoken in the area of Nepal where I was. That is a much harder language for me, so I stuck to English only and lots of smiles. Both languages have their own alphabet, un-decypherable to me.

Next stop was Armenia and Georgia. Armenian is a language related to no other, just like Georgian. If you look at the tree of languages, both languages are on their own on a branch. Both have their own alphabet, especially designed. It took me a while to remember the first few words because my brain could not find any reference for remembering even basic words.

Dutch (and double-Dutch)is my native languages, and despite having left 30 years ago, I understand it all, speak it all, but I doubt it if my grammer is fully up to scratch. I was also fluent in German, but due to the lack of practice I am much less fluent nowadays. In Switzerland I spent time in the Swiss-German speaking area. Swiss-German differs greatly from high German, but previous exposure means I can understand some. Speaking it is a different matter though. I also learned French at school, but that never got beyond the basic conversation level. through my knowledge of French I can decipher some Italian and Spanish as they are all related.

I love the sound of Goidelic languages: the Manx, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. I have been many times to Ireland, including to the Gealtacht area where Gaelic is still spoken. I even learned some songs in Gaelic. In Ireland all signs are bilingual and I was surprised how many words I still remembered after having been away for decades.

The Brythonic languages; Welsh, Cornish and Breton Gaelic, are a different cattle of fish and do not sound like the Goidelic ones to me at all. My ears have not had much exposure to them and listen with a puzzled look on my face.

Somehow I manage to make myself understood no matter what language is spoken. Possibly because I am very used to non-verbal and intuitive communication through my work with non-verbal art students  with intellectual disabilities, and recently through my work with non-verbal people living with advanced dementia.

Non-verbal communication requires a different way of ‘tuning-in’ to a person, it requires being 100% present, and lots of intuition. It forces one to be fully present. It intensifies a connection and can make interacting very enjoyable.