|Dance for Parkinson's
The Pamela Trokanski Dance Theatre, in affiliation with the Mark Morris
partnership with the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing
Arts, UC Davis and the Parkinson Association of Northern California
(PANC), to offer weekly dance classes to people with Parkinson’s Disease
and their caregivers.
All Davis classes take place at the Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop, and we
have added a Sacramento based class series. Classes are presented free of
charge, but registration is mandatory, as class size is limited. The Davis 2013
Sessions will run on a slightly different schedule from the Sacramento classes.
Winter classes begin Tuesday, January 14 and run until Tuesday, March 18.
Content & Registration
While no previous dance experience is required, participants will explore elements
of contemporary dance, jazz, African-ethnic/folk dance, as well as playful
improvisations that affirm self, build community and provide an opportunity for
participants to reflect on their personal discoveries.
To register for the Fall session, please contact Mondavi Center Artist
Engagement Coordinator Ruth Rosenberg, (530) 752-6113 or
Please remember that you must be registered in advance, as class size is limited.
So why dance? And why Parkinson's?
The original Dance for PD®, of which Dance for Parkinson's is an affiliate, was
created through a unique collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group
and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, a chapter of the National Parkinson
Foundation (USA). Interested in finding out more about the original program? Get
more information at www.danceforpd.org
They built their teaching method on one fundamental premise: "professionally
trained dancers are movement experts whose knowledge is useful to persons with
PD. Dancers know all about stretching muscles, and about balance and rhythm.
Most importantly, dancers know how to use their thoughts, imagination, eyes, ears
and touch to control their movements." (Dance for PD®, Mark Morris Dance
For a dancer, it is a "given" that they will work on building and maintaining muscle
strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. It is also a general rule that they
(the dancer) will work with a wide range of music that stimulates and energizes.
Dance for Parkinson's invites the Parkinson's community to a stimulating,
enjoyable, non-threatening, social environment in which to experience movement
while working on, and with, these same elements.
When Pamela first formed The Third Stage, a multi-generational, contemporary
dance company, in 1994, she wrote:
"Dance is not the sole property of a technically trained elite, but a form of
expression, communication, and creative endeavor that belongs to all people of all
That statement remains true and is a driving force behind her interest in, and
commitment to, this program.
And then... There is this, written by Dorothy Ross, a participant in the
I believe that overcoming inertia is the secret to an active and productive old age.
For my upcoming seventy-fifth birthday, I plan to have a T-shirt imprinted with a
motto based on Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion. Newton stated, in part, “…a
body in motion…will remain in motion...” In other words, “Moving bodies keep
Newton’s First is particularly applicable to the elderly, inertia being both the
blessing and the curse of our old age. It can be very nice to slow down, sit down,
and savor the quiet life. We’ve earned it. But we know, because our doctors tell us
so, that there is real danger in becoming an immoveable object. Since we have no
oilcans for our knees, the only help for arthritic joints is to exercise them; a heart
that is never required to pump hard cannot withstand a sudden shock; and lungs
that are not pushed to capacity will lose their capacity.
Because I’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, the ultimate motion
sickness, my need to keep moving is even more pressing. The neurologist tells
me that exercise is every bit as important as medication in alleviating the
symptoms of this condition. She prescribes an hour of movement every day. It can
be yoga or aqua aerobics or walking —anything, as long as I’m not sitting still.
There was only one type of exercise that the doctor specifically recommended.
She said dancing would be neurologically soothing. I’m not a dancer, never have
been, but I was sufficiently motivated to try a special Dance for PD class,
developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and offered at the Pamela Trokanski
Dance Workshop. In a real dance studio, lined with mirrors and ballet barres, I
have the great fun of moving to music with other motion-challenged people. We
laugh and we sing and we sway. We dance! For one afternoon each week, we
forget that we have Parkinson’s.
So I really do believe in overcoming inertia, overwhelming stasis, conquering
laziness. I’ll order my T-shirt in burgundy, a very Newtonian color, with “Moving
Bodies Keep Moving” printed on the front and “I’m Overcoming Inertia”
emblazoned on the back. Then when I walk in the park and pass young people
lounging on the grass, the sign on my back will challenge them to get moving.
Even better, old folks sitting on park benches may be motivated to stand up and
walk with me. - Dorothy Ross,
|Mark Morris Dancer, John Heginbotham, leading a dance exercise at the October, 2010, class.