Multimodality and Embodied Learning in Communities and Schools
Edited By Mira-Lisa Katz
3. “All the World’s a Stage”: Musings on Teaching Dance to People With Parkinson’s
A DANCE CLASS GROWS IN BROOKLYN
“All the World’s a Stage”
Musings on Teaching Dance to People With Parkinson’s
Sometimes, in the middle of a grocery store, Herb Heinz, a musician and composer in his mid-40s, finds it difficult to move. For almost ten years, he’s had Parkinson’s disease (PD), a degenerative neurological disorder that can affect muscle control, balance, and coordination, among other things. In 2007, he started taking dance classes specially designed for people with Parkinson’s. A few months into the sessions, he found that he had absorbed elements of the dance class so completely that when he experienced difficulty initiating movement at the local supermarket, he was able to choreograph a sequence in his mind to help him move again with graceful flow. By thinking like a dancer, Heinz leap-frogged over his body’s physical condition and started moving gracefully again. Just as dancers have been doing for thousands of years, he created vital movement out of stillness and forged a road where there had once been an impasse. He experienced dancing as a particularly profound type of embodied learning that activates the mind, body, and spirit in service of movement.
Professional dancers and people with Parkinson’s disease share a similar challenge: to execute difficult movement with ease and natural grace. For dancers, choreography or technical objectives establish the level of difficulty. For people with PD, the disorder’s effects complicate the act of moving. Both populations must use learned strategies...
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