Mad For Dance

Weeknights at 7.25pm

This new series of short films explores the ways in which dance has played a pivotal role in the lives of five individuals dealing with mental-health issues. Funded by Arts Council England, the programme is part of an initiative between Five, Arts Council England and Community Channel. The fourth in the acclaimed ‘Mad for…’ strand – following ‘Mad for Arts’, ‘Mad for Poetry’ and ‘Mad for Music’ – the series will be shown every evening to tie in with Mental Health Action Week and will also be shown on Community Channel.

Monday’s episode features Danielle from London, who has found a way to cope with her problems through flamenco dance. As a teenager, Danielle hoped to become the perfect ballerina, but insecurities about her body shape led her to develop bulimia. After a GP told her to seek help for her condition, Danielle joined Bulimics Anonymous and turned to dance once more – this time developing a love for the passionate rhythms of flamenco.

Tuesday’s edition meets Sarah from Ellesmere Port, Wirral. A recent graduate, Sarah found herself struggling to hold down three jobs. Last year, the stress became too much for her and she suffered an acute manic episode. She was taken to hospital in a distressed state and sectioned to prevent her from leaving. When she eventually left hospital, Sarah chanced upon an advert for a modern jive club and decided it would be the ideal way to rebuild her confidence and also indulge her long-standing love of dance. Along with her boyfriend, she is now an avid jiver.

Greg from Bristol is the subject of Wednesday’s film. As a young man, Greg suffered from severe depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol and saw his life spiral out of control. Four years ago, he attended a detox programme which included a form of improvised dance therapy. Greg credits this form of spontaneous, energetic dance with aiding his recovery. He is now an art student and is considering starting an MA. He regards his dance therapy as an integral part of his ability to grow as a human being.

Thursday’s programme focuses on Emma from Nailsea in Somerset. Emma has suffered from social anxiety disorder nearly all of her life but was only diagnosed in 2005. At school she was bullied because she hardly spoke and at home she was terrified of answering the door or the phone. University presented further challenges, as she began socialising in pubs and clubs, but found herself unable to approach the dance floor. In 2006, she was persuaded to join a street-dancing class and soon gained the confidence she needed to begin to overcome her disorder.

The last episode of the week on Friday profiles Nabina from Staines. Nabina had always struggled with depression but the severity of her condition only became apparent on a trip to Prague, when she suffered a manic episode. Nabina was sectioned and spent six weeks in hospital. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression), she has slowly learnt to deal with her condition using dance. She has studied dance for over 14 years, including belly dancing and Bharata Natyam – the oldest of all the classical Indian forms. Nabina choreographs dances to poems she writes herself and views dance as an essential form of self-expression.

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