Strictly Come Dancing 💃🕺

Prepared jointly by Simon O'Donovan & Heather Mankeltow

This week's virtual CST Friendship Group centres around dance, because 'Strictly Come Dancing' is due to start a new series on BBC1. Many of us are looking forward to this celebration of dance, something not many of us have had the chance to do during COVID-19 lockdown.

INTRODUCTION Start your session with introductions and by asking members to share their favourite dance or dancer, either from 'Strictly Come Dancing' or from a movie or live performance.

'Strictly' goes to Blackpool Ball Room each year, so ask members if they have ever danced there, or anywhere else for that matter.

Some members may have gone to dancing lessons, or been a member of a dancing group or club. Encourage reminiscence and story telling.

What do or did people like to wear to go dancing? Which shoes are best to dance in? What about hair, make up and perfume?

Some members might be (or have been) professional or social dancers, or some (like me) might be 'Daddy Dancers', with two left feet.

Ask if anyone has visited Blackpool. Discuss the illuminations and the funfair. Who would like to ride on 'The Big One' (pictured below)?


We then thought about some idioms associated with dance... and asked members to complete these well known phrases together ...

(This activity is shout out and not scored.

It aims to build members confidence before going into the music and picture quiz.)

Dancing in the STREETS – very happy. (MOONLIGHT also works)

Footloose and fancy FREE – free from commitment.

It takes two to TANGO – both parties are responsible.

To be all-singing, all-DANCING – to have a range of impressive skills.

To be light on one’s FEET – to be nimble.

To step out of LINE – to break the rules.

To dance on AIR – to be very happy.

To dance to someone else’s TUNE – to comply with someone’s demands.

To drag one’s HEELS – to stall for time.

To land/fall on one’s FEET – to have good luck.

To follow in someone’s FOOTSTEPS– to make the same choices as someone else did before.

To get into a GROOVE – to get used to doing something.

To get off on the wrong FOOT – to make a bad start.

To give it a WHIRL – to try something out.

To have two left FEET – to be clumsy or awkward.

To keep one’s feet on the GROUND– to be practical and realistic about something.

To keep someone on their TOES – to make sure someone is concentrating and ready for any outcome

To make a song and DANCE out of something – to make a fuss about something.

To put a toe out of LINE – to do something that breaks the rules.

To put one’s best foot FORWARD – to begin an endeavour with effort and determination.

To sweep someone off their FEET – to charm someone with romantic gestures.

To step on someone’s TOES – to offend someone by interfering with their responsibilities.

Twinkle TOES – someone who is nimble and quick footed.

To strut your STUFF – to behave confidently.

Walking on thin ICE - taking risks.

Two left FEET - clumsy.

SONG. Our first song, literally to get people in the mood for a dancing themed activities and CST music and picture quiz was 'I'm In The Mood For Dancing', by The Nolan Sisters.

YouTube video link here -

Ask members if anyone would like to get up and dance?


(Thanks to Heather Mankletow)

In the 'Activity Club' for people living with dementia, I used to facilitate a lot of dance as it is good exercise and great fun. Sometimes, I would take a box of colourful skirts, scarfs and tops if people want to dress up to do a 'demonstration dance' ….e.g. for Belly Dancing.

Beforehand, you need to risk-assess your participants and their mobility levels for balance, stamina, medical conditions etc… Who has good balance and can dance without support? Who is okay to dance in a ballroom hold, or holding hands in a circle dance? Who needs to be seated to dance? The aim is to make sure everyone is included, if they want to join in.

Remember that some people may prefer to watch others dance and get just as much enjoyment from that. You can encourage , but never force people to do anything they don’t want to do.

Some people may get very enthusiastic in their dancing and may need to be moderated and encouraged to rest in between songs. Ensure people are encouraged to drink along the way. Don’t allow people to go ‘too mad’ and then suffer afterwards having done too much strenuous dancing.

Allocate a helper to such people to ensure they stay away from people who are more vulnerable…. You need to keep everyone safe.

Be careful and support people if they want to twirl, as they may lose their balance. People really enjoy the 'Hokey Cokey' and I do a version where nobody is physically doing the ‘turn about’ … instead they put up an index finger and draw a circle in the air with it. Let people know at the start and show them the move. It is safer than having everyone trying to turn around, unless you know they all have excellent balance. People can do it standing or seated and we included both in our circle.

I have worked at a nursing home and I facilitated a ‘Tea Dance’ every Wednesday afternoon. People dressed up if they wanted to make an occasion of it. I had a CD player and a whole range of CDs. People gave me their requests and I payed a whole range of music that people could dance to but also sing along with.

I had volunteers who could Ballroom Dance and sometimes they danced together, and then encourage others who wanted to 'have a go' to get up and dance. Often people had forgotten or didn't know the proper steps, but that didn’t matter.

In Ballroom Dance hold it helps to steady people who are no longer very steady on their feet. If I was lucky, care staff and relatives would join in the fun and get people up dancing.

Sometimes it is nice to form a circle of staff/volunteers and the people we care for to dance. You can circle round to the right, then to the left, go in and out. You could even verbalise a ‘Wooooo’ when everyone goes into the middle as a bit of fun.

The more lighthearted and fun you can make everything, the better. And the more people sing along, the better. If people prefer not to dance you can encourage singing along, or playing a percussion instrument.

Dancing, singing, drumming, smiling and laughing particularly releases feel-good endorphins in the brain.

Nothing needs to be done perfectly, so don’t be afraid.

If you have a group of people or staff who enjoy dancing you could put on your own Strictly Come Dancing competition???

Good Luck, have fun and Keep Dancing (as they say on 'Strictly Come Dancing).

Heather Manktelow, Occupational Therapist, Activities for Health & Teacup Dementia Therapy


Do the 'Hand Jive' together, in time with this video of Cliff Richard & The Shadows.


Slap thighs twice

Clap twice

Open hands across each other twice

Opposite hand on top - Open hands across each other twice

Fish bump twice - Opposite hand on top bump twice

Right Thumb up & over right shoulder twice

Left Thumb Up & over left shoulder twice

Sounds complicated?

He is an instructive 'How To' video by Andrea Wilson

Have some learning the moves with the group and once they nearly have the moves, have a go at performing it to 'Wille And The Hand Jive'.

There are plenty move opportunities for group dancing later in this CST activities page.

There are five rounds of five questions, plus a song after each round. Therefore the quiz is scored out of thirty points. (Half a point if the question comes in two parts).

However, engagement and enjoyment are far more important than competition. Give loads of hints and clues to help members achieve.

ROUND 1. 'Strictly Come Dancing'