Scottish Ballet has developed its Dance Health programme of classes since 2015, supported by Baillie Gifford since 2018. This encompasses Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland, Time to Dance (dementia), and Elevate (Multiple Sclerosis). The aim is to improve physical, mental and social wellbeing for individuals and carers living with these conditions. Classes follow a two part structure – a physical class then a social café, generating a sense of community and genuine connections amongst participants.
Covid-19 presented a very difficult situation. In person classes were no longer viable and the timeline for this was indefinite. Our Dance Health programme is viewed as an antidote to loneliness, a lifeline for many. Quick action was needed to support the class community, and for Scottish Ballet this took priority. Baillie Gifford confirmed that in light of Covid, their sponsorship money should be redirected to wherever the need was greatest, so our Engagement team swiftly pivoted the delivery to digital via Facebook Live.
Online classes started on Monday 16 March, a week before official lockdown began. This meant there was no gap between the two delivery methods, ensuring consistency for regular attendees. Classes were live streamed at 11.30am, five days a week, and available to view at any point after transmission. Our engagement soared, with a global audience tuning in, and over 4,000 live viewers between March and September, compared with around 1,200 in person participations in 2019/20. Baillie Gifford’s support helped deliver a positive impact to those most vulnerable in the Scottish Ballet community.