Dance for Parkinson’s
I am still engaging in projects involving dance for people living with Parkinson’s. As a research associate and fellow traveller, I am proud to be contributing to the work of dance artists Murielle Elizéon & Tommy Noonan of Culture Mill, their performance lab in Saxapahaw, NC. This duo introduces the art of dance in ways that bring deeply emotional expression and resonance to all participants as they explore new realms of physicality.
Check out the fabulous work of these award-winning artists on their website.
Below is a bit of my background in introducing dance for Parkinson’s in North Carolina.
It used to be that exercise of any kind was contraindicated for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Today, such a concept is discredited. Researchers have shown that many forms of exercise stimulate the brain, helping form new pathways for movement and help people with Parkinson’s live longer and stronger. Dance for Parkinson’s is perhaps one of the more powerful exercise choices – and so many types of dance! Ballet, modern, folk, Tango, improvisation – virtually any rhythmic option offers physical, psychological and social benefits! Now, Dance for Parkinson’s is a world-wide movement phenomenon, with teachers training in over fifty countries. Check out the fabulous website with downloadable classes you can do in your home and more.
Between 2008 and 2016, I was passionate about designing pioneering research on the effects of improvisational dance on balance for people living with Parkinson’s. The research was a first in North Carolina, a welcomed addition to the Dance for Parkinson’s literature, and a springboard for further studies and local classes.
I couldn’t have done this without the help of my colleagues from Wake Forest University and Baptist Medical Center – Professor of Dance, Christina Soriano, and neuroscientist, Dr. Christina E. Hugenschmidt.
The video Coming Together – Dancing with Parkinson’s, from one of our first studies, garnered honorable mention at the Third International Parkinson’s World Congress (producer, Nicholas Hristov and team of the Center for Design Innovation, Winst0n-Salem). We were nominated for a Special Topics award in Frontiers for our methods article published in 2016 in Frontiers in Neurology,
The two Christina’s have gone on to win an NIH award for researching the effects of dance for people with early cognitive declines. Soriano also initiated a deeper investigation into improvisation. Check out her entries on IMPROVment.