Entelechy Arts 21st Century Tea Dance

Entelechy Arts – Growing Older Creatively

On the weekend of 19 and 20th May there is going to be an exciting opportunity to experience the work of pioneering community arts organisation Entelechy Arts. For the past twenty-eight years our south east London based company has been working with a huge number of older people on a wide range of arts projects. Over the decades we have been making masses of art with masses of people. Most of this work has been in and around Lewisham but in the middle of May, we have an opportunity to strut our stuff to the whole of London. Older members of Entelechy Arts are going to host a Royal Wedding 21st Century Tea Dance in the beautiful surroundings of the refurnished Queen Elizabeth Halls in London’s Southbank Centre.

In February of last year Age UK published The Wellbeing in Later Life Index. The index analysed data from 15,000 people aged 60 and over to measure the wellbeing of the UK’s older population. One of the key findings was that taking part in ‘creative activities’ such as the arts, had the most direct influence in improving a person’s wellbeing in later life.

Entelechy Arts’ weekly programmes have given people the opportunity to uncover forgotten or hidden skills and aspirations. The company now works with a network of over two hundred older singers, actors, poets, dancers, artists: ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Work has happened in the lounges of sheltered housing schemes, community halls and arts centres. One of Entelechy Arts’ projects, Walking Through Walls, supports older residents living in care homes to get creative where they live as well as outside within the wider community.

All this work echoes the findings of the Later Life Index: taking part in arts activities is good for you. Nellie Andoh, one of the pioneering members of our elders company summed up her experience:

“I thought I’d finished with life but this is waking me up again. It makes you feel you’re not dead, you’re not worthless. You can do something and still be a part of the world.”

Entelechy Arts 21st Century Tea Dance
Older members of Entelechy Arts are going to host a Royal Wedding 21st Century Tea Dance.

Southbank Centre’s (B)old Festival is happening on the weekend of 19 and 20th May. The festival will feature artists who are established in their practice and are recognised nationally or internationally for their work. Entelechy Arts’ 21st Century Tea Dance will start at around 2.30pm

We take the traditional form of a tea dance and bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The Tea Dance is hosted by Christopher Green and his alter ego, the unforgettable (retired Edwardian music hall artist) Ida Barr. There will be live music from Jive Five, the Meet Me Choir, spoken word and poetry performances and plenty of dancing. So put on your most regal of glad-rags for the best Royal Wedding party in town.

In addition to the Tea Dance, older performers from Entelechy will be performing their live art installation ‘Bed’. The (B)old Festival celebrates great artists who stand the test of time and don’t shy away from the issues facing them. This is certainly the case with older performers in ‘Bed’ who have been appearing in their beds in high streets up and down the country, abandoned in their night clothes with just their stories to highlight the stories of loneliness and isolation experienced by so many older people.

More information about the work of Entelechy Arts can be found at www.entelechyarts.org

David Slater

David Slater is Director of UK participatory arts company Entelechy Arts, based in Deptford, southeast London. He has extensive experience of working with participatory arts practice in both urban and rural communities.

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