classes continue at Queen Square

After a successful pilot at National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery 2018-19 I am delighted we will be continuing regular sessions this week. Dancers have been involved in a variety of creative projects since the classes began, including submitting a beautiful film to the World Parkinson’s Congress this March.

Please download the classes flyer here for more information, or get in touch with us at dancing.parkinsons@gmail.com

Summer term classes take place on Thursdays from 23 May to 4 July 2019.

Our recent presentation at the Dancing with Parkinson’s in Practice Symposium demonstrated the high quality artistic work we have been exploring, and the research questions we are beginning to refine alongside the dancers.

This film by Marco Benozzi was screened at the symposium and I’m thrilled to share it with you now:

ACE Funding success for the CID Project at Poplar Union

We have been excited for some time about our performance and research project CID - Collective Identity, and we are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded Arts Council Funding to deliver the first phase of R&D for this project in partnership with Poplar Union over the summer. The project places collaboration at the heart of the process, and most importantly, places equal value and weight on all contributors. Visual artists, musicians, dance artists and people with Parkinson’s will all come together to explore the intimate art of dancing and the value of collective creative expression - which are inseparable.

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Dancing with Parkinson's in Practice, Symposium round-up

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.

Stories need telling, for which you need language, and words only go so far – most of life takes place well beyond the reach of words. Words can convey inner states, but they are always about things, they are not the thing itself - all this evening’s talk about dance is not actual dance. For me, the value in dance class is learning an expressive art - a creative language for both Body and Being, good for exploring and expressing things deeper than words
— Leslie Mapp (dancer with Parkinson’s)

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.

For me, although the studio space is wonderful and full of light, the emotional and spiritual space of the class is equally important. The teachers create it, and our volunteers support it, and the dancers co-create it as well.
— Alison Williams (dancer with Parkinson's)
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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

As the disease progresses, you do learn new words - from medicine, from psychology, from statistics - but none successfully conveys the profound depths of the experience. It’s inexpressible in words, it needs speaking not just speaking about. Which is why the particular combination of music, choreography and infectious enthusiasm that Danielle brings to her classes is so rewarding.

Not only does it provide me with physical exercise for the movement disorder, it also provides me with a language for directly expressing my new persona as a person with Parkinson’s. And I’m learning the best way, immersed in company with native speakers. Everyone in the class is fluent in either Parkinson’s or dance, and we’re all learning from each other. Sure, I’d get the same physical workout from the gym, but most probably in an atmosphere of conflict and competition – refuse those limitations, fight that disease. Now that Parkinson’s and I are inseparable, I prefer the gentler language that dance speaks, one of working together, of exploring and expressing just who I am right now - in a language of collaboration, imagination, self.
— Leslie Mapp (dancer with Parkinson's)

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.

aep skills exchange: group, individual, autonomy and leadership

News from the aep...

Ensemble and collectivity

On Skills Exchange Day 3, Hannah Robertshaw and Danielle Teale collaborated to deliver a workshop exploring their joint interest of collectivity and ensemble from very different perspectives. 

Hannah shared her thoughts on the ensemble as a uniting concept in which dancers communicate through shared action. 

In my workshop I shared the working processed behind my research with people with Parkinson's. The Collectivity and Intimacy project was developed out of a curiosity for the teaching method of collectivity which is used in dance for Parkinson's to make best use of mirror neurons and external cueing, which is a highly researched and a proven tool for supporting people with Parkinson's to move with more fluidity and intention.

My research interrogates this teaching practice and questions whether it can be considered inclusive, as it is led by external direction (either visual, auditory, verbal or tactile) by the artist.

aep skills exchange: objects, stories, people

news from the aep...

Community Dance as Curatorial practice

On the second day of the AEP Skills Exchange, Lizz Fort took us through a practical task to highlight the importance of artistic choices, and how to deliver a session which provides trainee students with a window into the values of community dance, creative practice and artistry. In her own words she shares her thoughts behind the practice:

In my work as a dance teacher educator, as trainee teachers journey from dancer to teacher/facilitator, I feel strongly that they see themselves as artists in their teaching practice before they develop the skills to host creative dance activities with others.  The activity I hosted at the AEP is one way that I start this conversation. In addition, I wanted to open up a discussion with the other artists about my current interest in rethinking community dance as a curatorial practice, an idea I have been formulating for a PhD research proposal. The ‘object-writing-hand phrase activity’ seemed well suited to achieve both of these objectives.