Since my first dance class after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (2010), I just know that Dance matters. Only one hour of dancing completely changed the way I experienced my own body. Since then, I have continued dancing almost every day. Every morning dancing in my living room became a new ritual to start the day. Exploring my body in my own safe comfort zone. And sharing the joy of dancing with likeminded people while dancing in Class every week.
“I must tell you that my body is curious about everything and I: I am body.”
I came across this quote in 2006 and have held onto it like a compass for when I am lost in existential questions. It reminds me to not forget my body when confronted by topics I don’t understand. It captures the engine I feel in me when I dance in the studio and it captures the essence of what I want to ignite in others when I teach.
This type of physical curiosity drove our work when we gathered in Rotterdam at Dance for Health in March 2018. For this meetings of experts, we had two aims: to further experiment with a variety of approaches to dancing with movement disorders and to cultivate a reflection process that could capture the knowledge and impact as we uncovered it. We were a mixed group with a range of backgrounds. Some were dealing with movement disorders. Some not. Some had decades of dance experiences. Some none. But all of us possessed an expertise developed either through training and profession or via the first-hand experience of dealing with a movement disorder. Dance was our platform for questioning and experimentation and the studio was our space for research. We were all the subjects of our own research.
The second day Danielle started us of with a dance session consisting of five short exercises that where dealing with ‘cues’, one of the themes during the research. In the exercises the cues we introduced but not given by Danielle, everyone could internally cue themselves.
During our warming up we got instructions to focus on tension within our body, exaggerate that tension and then release. These would also be our cues during the dancing that followed. Added was also the cue ‘spiraling’. At the end of the exercise everyone was crisscrossing through the room and moving wildly.