Tonic Arts Twelve Days of Dance Base Dance in Hospitals HEADER

Twelve Days of Dance Base: Collaboration with Tonic Arts

Nicola Kenny

Today, we’re spotlighting our partnership with Tonic Arts. The pilot project, running from 2022-2023, worked on exploring the potential for dance in Edinburgh hospitals.


The Tonic Arts programme, delivered as part of the NHS Lothian Charity, aims to improve and support health and wellbeing through a vibrant creativity and arts programme. Since they approached Dance Base in 2022, we have worked with them to develop a programme bringing dance to hospitals. Specifically, to build new relationships and practices using dance with patients in hospital settings.


Over the course of the year, the pilot delivered:

  • 1 x artist consultation meeting
  • 5 x site visits
  • 3 x dance sessions in Orchard Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • 6 x dance sessions in Ferryfield House
  • 2 x dance sessions in Ellen’s Glen House
  • 12 x dance sessions in East & West Pavilions, Astley Ainslie Hospital
  • 5 x dance sessions in the Western General Hospital

The aims of the program were:

  • To understand viability for a longer-term project
  • To establish a model for the partnership between Dance Base and the Tonic Arts programme
  • To identify suitable spaces/services that would benefit from dance activity
  • To engage key staff/stakeholders
  • To identify best model to take forward
  • To understand how activity can be built to be scalable and adaptable to a number of different spaces
  • To inform research into funding opportunities for future work


Tonic Arts Twelve Days of Dance Base Dance in Hospitals art pic 1

The Western General Sessions

In Autumn this year we where we worked with in-patients in the Medicine of the Elderly wards. The sessions were led by Dance Base’s dance artist, Jen Cunningham and independent artist, Sheena Byrne. These gentle, joyful dance sessions supported around eight people each week to explore movement and interactions with others using dance, music, and song. We worked closely with the fantastic hospital staff in these small group sessions to make sure everybody was properly supported, including our oldest participant who was 99!


Speaking about their experiences in the group, one participant said, “I didn’t think I could do that anymore, I’m so proud of myself.”


In our final session, we invited a local artist, Willy Gilder, in to draw the dancing for us. This wonderful collaboration produced the images used to illustrate this post, a wonderful way to capture the movement of the session. The participants were able to enjoy looking over the art, recognising themselves in some of the captured moments.


We have since taken this artwork to one of our other community groups as a source of inspiration for more dancing, which has been a fantastic way to exchange physicality and creativity between communities. 


Tonic Arts Twelve Days of Dance Base Dance in Hospitals art pic 2


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