A pioneering new venture to use dance as a means of treating people suffering from fibromyalgia has been launched by Nottingham CityCare and FABRIC, the new Midlands-based strategic dance organisation created from the merger of Dance4 and DanceXchange.

Three eight-week trial sessions have been run during 2022 to use dance and movement to help people suffering from the debilitating condition which leaves patients suffering constant pain, which is often accompanied by low mood and fatigue along with a range of other symptoms.

These pilot sessions proved so successful, CityCare’s Clinical Academic Physiotherapist Rob Goodwin said he hopes to be able to attract funding to continue exploring dance as a way of supporting people with fibromyalgia and to measure its effectiveness against more traditional treatments.

Rob said: “This is a completely new approach as far as I am aware – I do not know of anyone else using dance as a means of tackling pain in fibromyalgia patients

“The project came about after a chance meeting at a CityCare event where one of our team got into a discussion with one of the leads from FABRIC and it was decided to explore using dance as a therapy for fibromyalgia.

“Covid delayed the project, but we were able to launch three programmes in 2022, each one including eight, weekly, three hour sessions for eight people at a time

“The feedback was very positive and the sessions proved to be popular with a lot of laughter. Participants said they enjoyed the sessions, that they were a distraction from their pain and that they had increased their confidence.

“Traditional pain management sessions can involve exercise but this was a really novel approach and it has even given some of our patients a new hobby.

“Therapies like this will never take away the patients’ pain but movement like this can help  patients to become more independent and live better.

“FABRIC were able to provide these sessions as they had some funding, some of which has enabled them to be able to provide further sessions until the end of the year.  What we would now like to do is to get funding to run a robust clinical trial to measure the positive effects of dance therapy against more traditional treatment methods.”

Becky Aram, Interim Head of Participation and Learning, FABRIC said:

“It has been wonderful to see how the participants have welcomed dance into their lives. Not only have we seen increased physical confidence, but by tapping into people’s creativity it has enabled them to experience the true power of dance. We are thrilled by the feedback, and we are hopeful that this is just the beginning of this ongoing research.

Some of the sessions were filmed and can be seen Selfhood Practices pilot - celebration film on Vimeo

The responses to the sessions from participants include:

“The group has been brilliant”

“I've really enjoyed myself! I feel my wellbeing (physical and mental) has improved over the weeks and I wish the sessions were on for longer.”

“I have just let myself go and gone along with the music…and laughed. I have not laughed like that in years.”

“When you are doing your movements you relax your mind and lose yourself in it. It is peaceful”



Date published: 15 February 2023