When attendees take to the floor on May 7 at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto’s annual Dine & Dance event, they’ll be swaying to the musical style of local group, The Spirit of Jazz. Founded in 2002 by James Warburton and Chuck Loriot, the group performs at jazz clubs and festivals as well as private parties and corporate functions. For the past seven years, the band has lent its talents to headline the social event offered to persons in the early stages of dementia and their families.
James explains that the involvement with Dine & Dance started casually but has since evolved into a meaningful tradition for the group members. “It all started when someone from the organization contacted me after the group played at another venue. So, essentially it started out as a simple business arrangement”, he says. “However, that changed quite dramatically after the first event. I, and other band members, have or have had relatives affected by Alzheimer’s and so it became quite personal.”
The event offers a fun and relaxing environment where people with dementia and their family caregivers can take a respite from the daily pressures they may face and enjoy special bonding time together. Held at the historic St. Lawrence Hall, attendees will enjoy an afternoon of dance, music, and be treated to lunch.
Much of the buzz at the Alzheimer Society Toronto lately surrounds the quickly-expanding iPod Project which brings personalized music to people with dementia. Research has shown the many benefits of playing music for people with dementia with at times, demeanours changing almost immediately. “Watching people come to life as they hear the music; dancing and singing along, seeing their delighted faces makes this a very special event for us, ” says James.
Playing a part in the Dine & Dance has become something the group eagerly anticipates, says Warburton, “We very much look forward to playing this event every year.”
The Dine & Dance event happens on Wednesday, May 7 from 11:30am to 2:00pm. The event is FREE to attend with registration and approval. Call 416-322-6560 to register.
Interview by Romina Oliverio