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Newsflash: Summer 2013 Recap

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Dance for PD on tour

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David Leventhal and Erica Rose Jeffrey lead a demo class as part of the Dance for PD training workshop at Queensland Ballet in Brisbane, Australia.

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Dance for PD workshop participants explore different types of walking at the studios of Critical Path in Sydney.

The Dance for PD program completed two international tours that delivered training workshops and informational presentations in Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Holland.

In May, a whirlwind, eight-day training tour of Australia included Dance for PD workshops for more than 30 dancers and dance teachers in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia, dramatically increasing the Australian dance community's capacity to work with persons with Parkinson’s in cities around the country. Teachers from Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Brisbane and other areas of the country were represented. “The trip was a tremendous success,” Leventhal said. “Despite the size of Australia, I felt we were able to make a significant impact because dance teachers from many different population centers are passionate about bringing the program back to their communities.” For more information, please click here.

In June, David Leventhal and Olie Westheimer joined teachers from the Dance for Parkinson's Network UK to help facilitate an intensive two-day training workshop for teachers and practitioners from the UK, Germany, and Italy. The workshop, co-presented by Dance for PD, the Network, and Dance Umbrella, and hosted by University of Roehampton, shared best practices from two continents with experienced teachers, and provided a chance to hear perspectives from a diverse field of speakers, including Ken Bartlett, Creative Director of the Foundation for Community Dance, who spoke articulately about the artistic imperative of the program. You can see the full workshop agenda here.

Maite and Joost

Maïté Guérin and Joost Vrouenraets of GOTRA (Netherlands)

Then in late June, Dance for PD collaborated with GOTRA (Joost Vrouenraets, choreographer) and GOTRA dancer and recent DfPD trainee Maïté Guérin to offer two community presentations about the program in Heerlen (Netherlands), and Liège (Belgium) as part of GOTRA's initiative to launch a program in those cities by 2014.

L'Allegro Movement Project

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MMDG dancer Lesley Garrison leads dancers during a performance of L'Allegro Movement Project.

In June, members of the Toronto-based Dancing with Parkinson's (a Dance for PD partner) joined young students from two Toronto elementary schools to perform adapted excerpts from Mark Morris' L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato as part of Mark Morris Dance Group's performance residency at the Luminato Festival. With a full orchestra (The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Chamber Choir and soloists conducted by Jane Glover), costumes and a live audience, L'Allegro Movement Project built upon the success of the Dance for PD in Performance event in Brooklyn last November (see Newsflash 8), creating an inter-generational initiative that allowed Parkinson's dancers and young students to explore the expressive vocabulary of Morris' masterpiece. Mark Morris Dance Group dancers and Dance for PD staff facilitated the planning and rehearsal process in collaboration with Dancing with Parkinson's and Luminato Festival.

“L'Allegro Movement Project has been an epic adventure for all of our participants,” says Toronto Dancing with Parkinson’s founder Sarah Robichaud. “Dancing with the children has certainly made our students feel part of a large, beautiful artistic community.”

“This large-scale inter-generational Education and Outreach project explores the multi-disciplinary richness of Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, and creates opportunities for collaboration that connects the participants through shared arts experiences, while reflecting personal and community narrative,” said Jessica Dargo Caplan, Director of Education and Community Outreach for Luminato. “On a personal note, it has been incredibly inspiring to be involved in the development of this beautiful project, and observe the authentic, ongoing exchange between the participants.”

To read an article about the project, please click here.

Culture, Health & Wellbeing in Bristol

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Delegates from around the world learned about the intersection of dance and Parkinson's at the Culture, Health & Wellbeing International Conference in Bristol, UK June 24-26. Day 1 of the conference featured a keynote speech by David Leventhal and a panel discussion that included Sara Houston (University of Roehampton), Danielle Jones (English National Ballet), Ute Scholl (Devon Dance), Amanda Fogg, Daphne Cushnie, and Anna Gillespie (Musical Moving) with David moderating. The panel explored ways in which a shared philosophy and teaching method can be successfully delivered to dramatically different communities. To see an archived webcast of David's keynote speech, please click here and click on the Dance for Parkinson's segment around 11:15 a.m.

Dance for PD Community Classes

Dance for PD community classes with Mark Morris Dance Group company members are usually available wherever MMDG tours. Class information is posted here and is updated regularly. Free community classes recently took place in Hanover, NH, Denver, CO, and Austin, TX, and will be offered in Albany, NY and London, UK in November. Please check out the MMDG performance calender here.

News briefs

Dance for PD featured on CNN blog: CNN's The Next List has produced a segment and article about the Dance for PD program. The segment features shots from the Manhattan program we offer at The Juilliard School. Watch the segment

BPG at the Unity Walk: Twenty-nine members of Brooklyn Parkinson Group Parkinson's Unity Walk team raised $12,815 for Parkinson's research, ranking the group 21 out of 100 top teams and surpassing its original target of $10,000. Congratulations to our BPG colleagues!

Politics and policy: The UK House of Lords engaged in a special debate July 25 about the intersection of arts, education, health and emotional well-being. For an excellent summary with excerpts of the proceedings from Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University, click here.

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Pamela Quinn's choreography is featured in a new short film.

New film: Dancer, choreographer and Parkinson's movement teacher Pamela Quinn has produced a new short dance film featuring a duet she choreographed for herself and David Leventhal. The film was selected as one of the top 12 selections for the World Parkinson Congress' film competition. See the film here. Meanwhile, Pam's article "Dancing with Outliers" was published in Neurology Now. In the essay, Quinn, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's 16 years ago, credits her experience and skills as a dancer with her ability to manage and inhibit her symptoms to a greater extent than many of her fellow patients. Read the essay

Scientific perspectives: A new study published in the journal Neurology found that exposure to bug and weed killers and solvents may play a role in the development of Parkinson’s.
Read more

Scientific perspectives: Researchers at Princeton University recently discovered that exercise creates vibrant new brain cells — and then shuts them down when they shouldn’t be in action.
Read more

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Dance for PD in the news: Founding teacher Misty Owens' Dance for PD classes in Dallas have recently received extensive media coverage, including this short video produced by the Dallas Morning News. In early July, The Washington Post published an article about the Dance for Parkinson's program at Bowen McCauley Dance, which has been offering classes for more than five years. Read the article here

New program: Boca Ballet Theatre's new Dance for Parkinson's program has been an instant hit, with more than 30 participants in the first class. See press coverage.

Personnel and Board news: David Leventhal is now Dance for PD's Program Director (formerly Program Manager). Maria Portman Kelly is now Dance for PD's Program Coordinator after serving as Program Assistant. David and Maria will continue to work closely with Eva Nichols, MMDG Outreach Director. Dance for PD Advisory Board chair Ellen Offner has joined Mark Morris Dance Group's Board of Directors.

Members Only postings and information

Sara Houston

Dr. Sara Houston

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Rats Can't Dance
Dance for PD members listened last year with interest during a phone seminar as dance research Sara Houston, from University of Roehampton, discussed her multi-year project with English National Ballet's Dance for Parkinson's program. Sara was the keynote speaker at the first Artists and Scientists as Partners (ASaP) symposium at Brown University in March 2013 and has made her talk, entitled Rats Can’t Dance: Challenges to researching dance for people with Parkinson’s Disease, specially available to Dance for PD members. Log in to read under Featured Articles.

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