Who knew that a simple hour in a dance studio with strangers could move me so deeply and be so transformational, to the point where I slowly and discreetly slide tears from my cheeks, as my heart swells and my body dances.
This beautiful hour happened yesterday when I decided to join and witness dance as a healing source for people with Parkinson’s disease. I first heard about Dance for PD through a posting that the Michael J. Fox Foundation shared. I was perusing the internet, looking at research and information as my father has been struggling with this debilitating and progressive disease for over 12 years. I see him bravely face the changes in his body, the grueling tightness, the fatigue, the tremors, difficulty walking, and other nonmotor symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, depression.
When I saw that the Mark Morris Dance Group had collaborated with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group to create Dance for PD, I was immediately inspired and wanted to experience it. Luckily these classes are offered throughout the states and in 11 countries around the world, and a beautiful documentary called Capturing Grace literally captures the essence of this healing work and the lives who are benefited from it.
I know and understand the power of dance to heal, through my work as a professional dancer and choreographer and from the program I created INsideOUT, using dance to relieve pain in the body, bring joy to the soul and peace to the mind.
As the participants filed into the studio yesterday I saw the familiar symptoms, the swinging gait, the shuffling feet, the far away glance, the scared look of uncertainty. As the class began, those limitations sort of fell away. It’s not that all of a sudden they were sky bound and leaping, but the heart and soul, the childlike freedom and joy is what rang so loudly in that room. The music swept all of us up, and each of us brought our concerns, and placed them on the dance floor. No longer patients, but dancers. We each spoke a word to describe one of our current struggles, flexibility, feeling alone, can’t communicate clearly, exhaustion, and then we put those feelings into movement. In a circle, facing each other, we strung our gestures into a linked dance, a story of our human experience, our highs and lows. And again, the tears streamed from the corners of my eyes.
To finish, hand in hand, passing love and acknowledgment from one person to the next, was so incredibly moving. To slow down, to be present to another’s experience, to give love, was truly a divine moment for me and kind of life changing.
May my father and others enjoy the benefits of this fitting and healing program. Thank you to Lineage Performing Arts Center for having me and for all the other studios bringing this beautiful work to their communities: Find a class
Love and blessings,