Dance for Parkinson’s

Hal and I recently saw the PBS documentary “Capturing Grace” by Dave Iverson, who is also known for the documentary “My Father, My Brother and Me” about his family’s battle with Parkinson’s. “Capturing Grace” is about Dance for PD, a dance program started by the Mark Morris Dance Company in New York for people with Parkinson’s. The film follows the lives of a few of the program’s participants, and culminates with a choreographed dance performance.

When dancing, a Parkinson’s patient is able to move in a way they are not able to normally; they become less symptomatic. One woman in the film demonstrates how her tremor stops altogether when she dances. Regularly, she shakes so much that you wonder how she can stand it, but when she gets up out of her chair and starts moving across the floor, she becomes free of the tremors, rigidity and immobility. She dances gracefully, elegantly, re-claiming her dignity.

It was hard not to see this film and not be inspired. Hal kept saying, “That’s what I do in my Parkinson’s exercise class!” He demonstrated dances he’s learned in his Parkinson’s exercise classes: making raindrops with his hands, and standing like a tree with its leaves falling. He’s learned how to do the tango and the mambo while sitting in a chair (which I didn’t even think was possible). Hal says dancing has helped him to be more rhythmical in his movements but, more importantly, he has  fun.

Click here for more information about the film “Capturing Grace,” and click here for more information about Dance for PD.

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