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New scholarship to research dance and dementia

A high-profile expatriate New Zealander has established a prestigious new postgraduate scholarship through the University of Auckland Campaign For All Our Futures to investigate the positive effect of dance for people with dementia.

The Lady Rosemary Buchanan Dance Scholarship, named for its founder, is intended to encourage and support a doctoral student in the Dance Studies Programme at the University’s Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries to undertake research examining issues concerning dance, community and well-being of the elderly.

The Scholarship, which will assist with study for up to three years, is worth $25,000 a year plus fees. 

Raised in Papatoetoe, Lady Rosemary Buchanan (nee Johnston) acknowledges she has always been passionate about dance, and was intrigued to hear of recent research that demonstrated the benefits of the discipline on aging.

“I wanted to give to the arts, particularly my art, which is dance,” she says. “I’m excited by the ways different disciplines can be combined to improve lives.”

Lady Buchanan started ballet lessons aged four, later going on to join the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company as a dancer, before marrying John Buchanan – who later became Sir John Buchanan, for services to industry.

The late Sir John Buchanan, who was also from Papatoetoe, and Lady Buchanan headed off to Europe in 1967. Back in Auckland recently for a short break, Lady Buchanan loves being home but says ‘there were too many opportunities overseas and she ended up staying for 50 years!’.

With a life-long love of dance, including contemporary, Lady Buchanan took lessons with the influential postmodern choreographer Lindsay Kemp for a time, as well as teaching ballet in schools for many years.

“Dance has always been very much part of our lives. My daughter-in-law teaches contemporary dance in the United States and my granddaughter is very keen on ballet,” says Lady Buchanan.

“Medical science appreciates dance. They have a genuine interest in how to solve things in a different way. This link between the disciplines is important and I’m delighted I can encourage it in some way,” she says.

Auckland University's New Dance Scholarship

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