This is the story behind the development of the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme.

How Move-Assure was born

Following the successful rollout of DDMIX and DDMIX for Schools (a dance fitness programme for the adult and school PE market) with its fantastic effects on both body and mind for all, Darcey Bussell teamed up with Dr Peter Lovatt and Lindsey Lovatt to discover how they could focus on using these assets specifically for mental wellbeing.

The simplicity of the steps, along with the music created by DDMIX, lend themselves perfectly to the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing programme – which Peter and Lindsey, with their years of knowledge and applied experience in dance psychology and mental health, have put together.

Lindsey and Peter run an organisation called Movement in Practice, which uses movement and dance to enhance people’s lives in business, education, dance, health and social care. Movement in Practice has two arms – one based on education and the other on creating and providing applied solutions to real-world issues.

The Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme provides a remedy for people’s mental wellbeing needs.

Our Story

Darcey Bussell & Peter Lovatt met while making a TV documentary called “Darcey Bussell Dancing to Happiness” for BBC2 in 2018.

Having spent her whole life working in dance, and as one of the most high-profile ballet dancers of her generation, Darcey has witnessed the power of dance to change all our lives.

As a former professional dancer turned Dance Psychologist, Dr Peter Lovatt set up the Dance Psychology Lab in 2008 to study dance and dancers from a scientific perspective. He is the author of The Dance Cure: the surprising secret to being smarter, stronger, happier.

Darcey and Peter were kindred spirits from the start and spent the long filming days chatting, dancing and talking about how dance transforms people’s lives.

As their friendship developed, Peter and Darcey carried on their groovy chats, and in 2020 created a podcast series together called “The Power of Dance”.

In January 2021 Peter’s life was turned upside down. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer. He was a mess, both physically and mentally.

To get ready for surgery he put The Dance Cure into practice and danced every day – using different forms of dance to help different situations.

For example, he used aerobic dance to get fit, musical theatre dance for escapism, ballet for focus and discipline and Thai Chi to keep calm.

Peter’s wife Lindsey, an Occupational Therapist who had worked in mental health for 30 years, saw the powerful, positive impact dance was having on Peter’s wellbeing and recognised immediately how much impact dance could have for people who are struggling with their own mental wellbeing.

Thinking about how dance could support her colleagues in the NHS and social care, and their service users, with their social, cognitive, emotional and physical wellbeing, Lindsey set up a call with Darcey and Peter to propose an idea.

The first part of the idea was to create a set of dances, based on Darcey’s Diverse Dance Mix, which could be linked to the key elements of mental wellbeing.

According the NHS, the five steps to mental wellbeing are:

Step 1: Connect with other people

Step 2: Be physically active

Step 3: Learn new skills

Step 4: Give to others

Step 5: Pay attention to the present moment

The second part of the idea was to deliver the dances in such a way that everyone would gain both physically and mentally from the experience.

The seed for the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing programme had been planted.

Bringing their ideas together Lindsey, Darcey and Peter set to work in their areas of expertise.

Darcey started to create seventeen dances that would be easy to learn and fun to dance.

Peter carried out academic research and looked at government guidelines for developing and delivering exercise referral programmes.

Lindsey spoke with mental health service users and people working in the NHS and social care to understand how a dance for mental wellbeing programme could be applied in the most meaningful way.

There are three key elements to the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme

Element 1: Fun dances, to great music, that anyone can do.

Element 2: A dance programme that is informed by trusted science and guidelines.

Element 3: Meaningful application in clinical and non-clinical settings.

Outdoor filming started in April 2021 – once Peter had recovered from surgery – and continued in July 2021 indoors, in between covid lockdowns.

The first version of The Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme was ready for review in September 2021.

The Move-Assure review team consists of clinicians working in practice, experts by experience, people working in the charity sector, dance teachers and academics, who all made significant contributions to the programme’s development.

The first publicly available version of the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme was released just before Christmas 2021, as a special gift to people working in the NHS and Social Care.

In January 2022, 6,000 people signed up for The Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme – it was a huge success.

The special gift to NHS and Social Care staff went on until June 2022 at which point  we returned Move-Assure to to its development lab/studio/clinic for fine-tuning.

Based on feedback we have added some wonderful features to the new Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme.

We have added weekly Group and Private Coaching.

We have added Weekly Wellbeing Tips to help people develop a wellbeing toolkit.

We have added some science sections so that people can learn the science behind the routines.

We have upgraded our platform and infrastructure – and created a Move-Assure App.

We have created systems and processes so that we are able to offer the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme as part of Employee Wellbeing Packages and to organisations offering Mental Wellbeing Services – such as to Primary Care Networks and Social Prescribers.

We were very excited for the official launch of the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme at the Royal Academy of Dance on the 21st November 2022. 

The Move-Assure Quartet

Dame Darcey Bussell

Director of Dance Fitness

Darcey Bussel Move Assure

A principal dancer with the Royal Ballet Company for more than 20 years – Darcey is one of the most famous dancers of her generation.

Her extensive broadcast work includes appearing as a judge on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, she has presented the live cinema relays for The Royal Ballet since 2013, she made “Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness” for the BBC in 2018, and in 2021, was a guest performer in the film Coppelia!, a modern retelling of the classical ballet.

Darcey has written several books on dance and has been honoured with an OBE, CBE and a DBE for services to dance.

Darcey is the creator of Diverse Dance Mix (DDMIX) a full body aerobic workout based on a wide range of different dance styles with easy to follow steps.

Read more on wikipedia

Dr Peter Lovatt

Director of Dance Psychology

Peter Lovatt Move Assure

Peter loves to dance. A former professional dancer, he’s a qualified psychologist, with a PhD in Psychology, an MSc in Neural Computation and a BSc in Psychology and English.

He has spent the last 25 years teaching at universities and carrying out research in Psychology, movement and dance.

Peter’s academic and teaching career extends from Cambridge University to the Royal Ballet School.

He has written two books on movement and dance and has authored academic papers on thinking, learning, problem-solving, memory, Parkinson’s disease, dance, rhythm and timing.

Peter is the co-founder, with Lindsey Lovatt, of Movement in Practice

Lindsey Lovatt

Director of Wellbeing

Lindsey Lovatt Move Assure

Lindsey loves people. She’s a qualified Occupational Therapist with an MSc in Forensic Mental Health, and postgraduate qualifications in Systemic & Family Therapy, Dramatherapy, Eating Disorders, and Parenting.

Specialising in CAMHS, Lindsey has always been a therapist at heart.

She has spent the last 30 years working closely with people, seeking to understand.

Lindsey has worked for the NHS as a leader in mental health services. With senior management roles, including Allied Health Professionals Lead for a large NHS Trust and being a specialist advisor for the Government’s Care Quality Commission (CQC),

Lindsey understands how people and organisations tick.

Lindsey is the co-founder of Movement in Practice, which is an educational organisation that uses movement to enhance people’s relationships, creativity, health and wellbeing. 

Angus Forbes

Director of Business and Finance

Angus Forbes Move Assure

Angus attended Adelaide University, completing an honours degree in Economics.

From 1987 to 2007, Angus worked in the City of London, at stockbrokers James Capel, Smith New Court and Merrill Lynch, before joining the hedge fund GLG, where he ran a global long short equity fund specialising in the consumer sector. He obtained his MBA from Cass Business School, in the City of London.

Upon leaving GLG, he did a short pro bono stint as Director of the Prince’s Rainforest Project.

For the last 10 years Angus and his wife have worked together on their various business and philanthropic projects.

Upon returning to live in London in 2012, Angus founded the environmental charitable organisation Bankers Without Boundaries and since 2017 has given talks advocating global self determination and the formation of the first supranational authority, one designed solely to protect and enhance a biosphere.

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