Dance for dementia at City Arts Festival

A Hype Dance Company performer
A Hype Dance Company performer

Science and Art will meet this weekend in a dance performance inspired by research into dementia.

A four-strong group of professional dancers will perform MODE:DEFAULT as part of the Festival of the Mind in the Spiegeltent at Barker’s Pool on Sunday.

Dr Dan Blackburn, from the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience

Dr Dan Blackburn, from the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience

The 10-minute contemporary dance is influenced by work being done at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), based at the University of Sheffield .

SITraN approached the Hype Dance Company, on Earl Street, City Centre, because of their repertoire of interpreting physical illness through dance.

Artistic director for Hype Dance, Anna Olejnicki, said:

"This was an opportunity to be creative about an illness which affects the mind – but it’s grounded in actual research going on in Sheffield."

She added: "We do work as a troupe with people who have dementia and this is a different way for the public to learn about people who live with the condition."

The default mode network is an area of the brain affected in the early stages of the dementia. The performance dramatises the process and efforts by doctors and healthcare professionals to stop it.

Dr Dan Blackburn is a dementia consultant based at SITraN. He said: “Performances like the one Hype is doing approach dementia from a different angle.

“Hopefully this will get the public thinking about taking part in research into dementia, a condition which affects 850,000 people in the UK and which is of particular focus in September, which is World Alzheimer’s Month.”

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will be funding the event. Established in 2006 the NIHR is the research arm of the NHS, they aim to translate basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy.

'Festival of the Mind' closes this Sunday, with other events taking place across the city at Millennium Galleries, Winter Gardens, Bank Street Arts and other pop-up venues.

The performances will take place at 11.15, 1.15 and 4.15 and entry is free.

Anybody interested in research in dementia in their area should go to