Spicy rhythms of the East come to care home as belly dancer comes gliding in

Belly dancer, Fatma performs to residents at Cae Bryn, Pendine Park, Wrexham. Pictured here with carer, Erica Ronquillo.

A belly dancer brought some sheikh, rattle and roll to a care home – with some of the residents joining in.

Fatma, clad in the traditional belly dancer’s outfit of a belt made of gold coins, floaty harem pants and veiled head-dress, was the star attraction at Pendine Park’s Cae Bryn care home in Wrexham.

She encouraged some of the 20 residents watching to don a variety of colourful costumes themselves and even get up to perform a few steps alongside her as she performed for them.

Fatma, an experienced and skilful dancer based at Greasby on the Wirral, was invited by manager Emma George to go through some of the hypnotic routines of which she learned the well-guarded secrets during a spell of living in Turkey.

Emma said: “We have lots of entertainment for our residents and we find it’s music and dancing they enjoy most.

“They’re very keen on The Beatles in particular but also the songs from the seventies and eighties. We’ve just had a new karaoke machine delivered which they can sing along to and they also watch Spotify on their big communal TV so they choose their own tunes.

“It’s a fact that music and singing can be very beneficial to people with dementia because when you hear something that’s familiar it’s natural to want to join in.

“The residents like dancing very much too and we have regular sessions for them in the big dining area.”

Fatma said: “I learned to dance the traditional routines from the experts while I was living in Turkey and like to think that this form of dancing can overcome all sorts of prejudices.

“It’s something everyone can join in with. When people hear the soothing eastern music I play to accompany myself I think it takes them to a happier place and is good for someone who has dementia.

“On these visits I also like to involve people in my dancing as much as possible.”

Just a couple of minutes into her act, Fatma persuaded staff member Erica Ronquilla to get involved by donning a long pink eastern-style robe, gold belt and blue head-dress and joining her in a complex routine which drew cheers from around 20 residents watching from the sides. 

Some of the residents tried out the costumes she offered them and danced along with her, including 77-year-old Jackie Davies who said later that she’s enjoyed the performance and having the chance to get involved.

Raymond Ralph, 85, and his 81-year-old wife Diana, who are both Cae Bryn   

residents, put on Middle Eastern costume – Raymond a smart-looking fez – as they foot-tapped along with the belly dance beat.

Other residents were content to sit it out but still kept time with the tambourines that Fatma handed out and small hand-drums.

Manager Emma said: “The residents really enjoyed Fatma’s performance and she really managed to get them very much involved in what was a fantastic show. We all loved her.”  

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