The Fit Arthritic & Dancing Elder By Lin Grahame

Today was the first performance by PRIME,  The new semi-professional company of elder dancers of which I am lucky and privileged to be a member.

Back in February we auditioned and the company members were selected. Since then we have had a fortnight residency at Dance Base in Edinburgh, our home, with Angus Balbernie.

Our very first dance piece together was made.  We have worked hard. Company class every week and as many other classes as we can fit in.  We are better, so so much better for it.  It is a great feeling.  Work we have put in has paid of.  The result is felt and it is deep.

We are different dancers than we were in February. We are strong, confident and proud.  Proud of our years and the lives we have lead. Proud of what has brought us here together at this time.

For me it feels like -when the artist is ready opportunity has presented itself.  I am stronger, more confident and able than I was all those years ago when it all started. Even a hip replacement is not hindering me now -long may it continue.


Two years on we have had some amazing adventures.  In September of 2015 we took our piece Tarn  choreographed by Angus Balbernie to Singapore.  We performed that work  in several locations as well as the wonderful “Rolling in the Deep” choreographed by Morag Deyes to the song by Adele.

We toured Scotland performing in Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee as part of the Luminate Festival.

We now have a great varied  repertoire consisting of Tarn, Rollin,  Auld’s Cool, choreographed by Ashley Jack at Dance Base Edinburgh.

We have the fabulous ‘Carry on Dancing’ choreographed by the brilliant Steinvor Palsson to songs of Marlene Dietrich.

We don’t have funding now but it hasn’t stopped the company.  This year there was a new work by Bridie Gane to be performed for the European Championships in Glasgow.  The company is now bigger that ever and I am looking forward to many more adventures and learning.

Having arthritis and thinking of oneself as a dancer is not easy.  I had an amazing two years until my left hip started to give me pain in the Spring of 2017.   I have not been able to dance well for most of this year 2018.

2018 Second Hip Replacement

Hip Blog- Dancing with Arthritis/ The Fit Arthritic/Dancing Elder/Ceramic and Metal hips.

My Arthritis Story started a long time ago, in fact it probably started before I was born.  It was passed down through generations of people who had the mindset, diet and lifestyle to suffer it.

This is My darkness, My challenge.  My gift

Saved up and passed

Through the lines

Of people who bent to the will

Of their others, their children, their kith and their kin.

No words ever spoken

Unwritten rules

Swallowed and locked

In the joints.

Kept them half shut, hidden and cowed

Unable to open and reach for the sky,

This is my darkness, My Challenge, My Gift

To Change.

To leave resentment behind and feel loved!

The Catalyst for Change

I discovered Dance in my late 20’s.  Too late to do any serious training but that did not stop me doing all that I could!

It was not any kind of dancing, but Contemporary Dance Class that I LOVED.  I became fascinated by the pioneers such as Martha Graham, Ruth St Dennis and Ten Shawn and Margaret Morris.

I thought that the grace and ease of movement dancers possessed was down to three things.  Training, good joints and good alignment.

Me I had none of these things but only determination and love.  Also, what I didn’t know then, was that I had arthritis!

I always had tight hips and put it down to my late start to training and dance class.

There were some moves and shapes that I could not make or do due to this inflexibility although I became more flexible the more classes I did.

Bringing the story for the moment to present day or more precisely, eight years ago.  In 2010 I had my right hip replaced.

I kept a dairy of that journey and can compare with the present day, because eight years on, I have just had my left hip replaced.  Both knees are dodgy!  I also am sure I have arthritis in my shoulders and spine. But I dance on!!

“To Dance is to Live this Life to the Full

And from the Heart to Give its Direction and Rule”

Martha Graham

The NHS in Scotland in 2010, was not quite as poorly as it is today and I was quite swiftly seen by a consultant.

From first going to my General Practitioner the process took about 8 months or for the comparison with the present, 32 weeks.

I had the operation in the summer.  The timing was all important to me because the summer is the best time for me to take time off work.

I am a massage and bodywork practitioner as well as a Pilates teacher.  I do not teach a full term of Pilates classes during July and August.

I could plan my work around it easily and not lose too much money.

This was possible because at that time the NHS was using the private Golden Jubilee Hospital in Glasgow to ease the waiting times for joint replacements.  The consultant was able to tell me how long it would be after the initial consultation until the operation.   I was very lucky and was looked after well.

I had my right hip replaced at The Jubilee Hospital in Glasgow by Mr. David Allen on the 21st June 2010, midsummer. I was 58 years old.

I was given an epidural anaesthetic and a sedative so was not awake during the operation.

I was in the hospital for two nights after the operation and after minimal physiotherapy in the form of stair walking I went home.

The operation was done by the posterior incision which meant that I could not bend forward at the hip for six to eight weeks.

The prosthesis consisted of a ceramic head and metal shaft.  I took arnica 30 for a day before the operation and rescue remedy afterwards. I also used the Aura Soma pink pomander.