Last week, with an international audience of over 75 guests, I was delighted to host and present the first Dancing with Parkinson’s in Practice symposium in collaboration with the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) and Institute for Neurology.
The symposium was opened by colleague and friend David Leventhal, Founding teacher and Director of Dance for PD, who generously shared his thoughts on the practice of telling stories - we have to honour the real stories and find ways to share them… This set the tone for the evening and the values of our programme, which champions the voices of people with Parkinson’s and puts their stories at the centre of the practice.
The evening followed with presentations from Danielle Teale, artistic initiator of Dancing with Parkinson’s, and Ben Beare, research Physiotherapist and collaborator for the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery programme. Teale and Beare have been working together on a pilot research for the programme, and the presentation was an honest insight into the challenges of researching dance, and the pitfalls of data capture measures. Teale and Beare are continuing their research partnership and exploring new approaches in the continued programme from May 2019.
The main event of the evening was an opportunity to hear from our expert panel of dancers with Parkinson’s. Chaired by Alison Williams, who sits on the Dance for Parkinson’s Partnership UK Steering Group, and is a dancer with Scottish Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s Programme in Edinburgh.
Dancer Leslie Mapp who is a long standing member of Danielle Teale Dance, Dancing with Parkinson’s in Hackney at St. Joseph’s Hospice, gave a moving speech about the power of dancing and a true insight into the experience of a dancer with Parkinson’s. You can read an abridged version of this on the blog from a previous entry: Swan Song
Then the remaining panel, dancers Anne Prest, Steve Harris and Angie Heathfield, were invited to speak about their experiences - why dance, what keeps you coming, does the space affect your experience, what is important to you about leadership… all these questions opened a valuable dialogue between audience and dancers about their experience and what we can learn from them.
The Dancing with Parkinson’s programme at National Hospital for Neurology continues in May 2019 with regular classes and research taking place, funded by the National Brain Appeal. Keep in touch with us for more information and sign up to our newsletter for regular updates.