Idalina Aguiar, former member of the European Working Group of People with Dementia, tells us about the ballet “UNBOX” which explores dementia through the medium of dance


“As some of you know, I am now much more physically limited, having broken my femur and having a prosthesis fitted. I went through a troubled period in which my illness worsened and I was completely lost while hospitalised, but I managed to recover some of my functions due to the enormous support of my family. Today, I already have some difficulty writing and I forget a few words, but my daughter Nélida, who has been by my side in recent years, is now my "wing woman" and is a precious help to me. I try to write as well as I can and she reviews my text and translates it into English. It was with immeasurable pride that I was invited to the premiere of the ballet “UNBOX” and I was simply amazed... this show is a choreography about dementia, and it was really impressive how this production by Cláudio Canada, with creation and artistic direction by Hugo Rodrigues, managed to express the pain of this drama that affects many families and to de-mystify the shame associated with the symptoms, on a journey through movement, through the mind.

In an initiative promoted by Casey's Dance Studio, this choreography was inspired and created by the experience and story of Hugo's grandmother, who developed the disease. It is possible to perceive the anguish and the worsening of the loss of cognitive faculties. A true story about the pain of living with dementia and its adversities, how the body and mind react to the demands of life and how it harmonises desires, abilities, ambitions, conflicts, ideas, disturbances, traumas or life transitions. life. This approach to dementia in an artistic language - dance - to honour all those who suffer from it and demystify the disease was really impressive. We know very well that all the emotional drama, the inner struggle of wanting to remember, forgetting itself is very difficult.

UNBOX is a choreography that represents moments and states of a woman with dementia and also those around them, in a sublime performance by the prima ballerina, Rosa, and all the other dancers (13 in total). They were able to explore feelings, memories and experiences, creating a personal and biographical study of the movement and drawing society's attention to this disease, which needs more support. By portraying the different perspectives of what it's like to live with dementia, UNBOX is indeed a reflection on mental health, and manages to convey the importance of facing stigma and fears of discrimination. A disconcerting, disturbing, dramatic, brutal and very real spectacle. I know what it's like to live with dementia, and I felt included and I just LOVED it!!! In the end, I felt enormous pride in being able to take a picture with the whole cast.”