Everyone at every age and with all levels of experience (or none at all) is invited to experience the joy that comes from dancing in a Dance Wise for Parkinson's class!
Think about how you begin to learn any new skill. It takes time, repetition and a clear vocabulary that informs the “how” while a skilled instructor demonstrates and guides. This holds true for dancers starting out at any age and level of mobility or coordination. With an open mind, a few bobbles, and loads of joyful explorations to expand the mind and body, within a few classes, a studio full of dancers emerges!
Just imagine a beginning piano student attempting to create a complete piano piece without first acquiring a working knowledge of notes, harmony, and rhythm. Or a computer programmer attempting to write instructions that a computer will understand without a thorough understanding of the language of code. Although dance is the most natural form of expression for humans (it was your first mode of human communication as an infant!), learning and becoming a comfortable and confident creative dancer takes a little time, novel repetition of guided dance explorations, a structured learning environment, and a vocabulary upon which the steps and skills are built.
Challenging your body to move in and through the three levels supports your balancing system by strengthening and stretching muscles. For example, dancing down low with the knees bent and in a squatting position, strengthens the large muscles in your legs and core. Dancing up at a high level - even up on tip-toe - strengthens the lower leg muscles of the calves and feet and it also keeps the core engaged. Twisting and bending at your middle level lengthens and strengthens the muscles in the back that support the spine. Keeping your middle body supple helps you adapt during weight changes and to maintain your balance when transferring from one leg to the other. Moving through the different levels also engages your eyesight, helping you stabilize based on the visual information coming in through your eyes.
Want to experience for yourself how dancing your body through the different levels impacts your balance in just one hour-long class? Why not dive right in and give Dance Wise for Parkinson’s a try!
Anytime I meet someone new, the subject of dance always comes up. It's no surprise, dance has been the longest and strongest influence in my life for over 30 years! Inevitably, many will scoff and joke that they are the most uncoordinated person they know or that they have 2 left feet. Challenge accepted! I invite every uncoordinated human with 2 left feet to try my creative dance class and experience the freedom and joy that comes from dancing!
So, what does creative dance look like?
You may be thinking that creative dance might look like the scene out of White Christmas, where Danny Kaye pokes fun at "choreography". Or what about the complex sequences in the latest Broadway show like Hamilton? Some people even think that in a creative dance class, there is little structure at all and the dancers just undulate and fling their bodies about; guided only by the way the music makes them feel. You may be intimidated by the thought - I would be, too! So then, what is creative dance?
Creative dance is a dance form that combines personal mastery of skill with the artistry of expression. During each one-hour Dance Wise class, we alternate between structured and free movement exercises designed to master skills as well as develop personal artistry. The skills in Dance Wise classes include vocabulary from classical ballet as well as modern, jazz and even tap dance. The exploratory dance activities draw from a vocabulary of dance concepts like Energy: smooth and sharp or Levels: low/middle/high. There is a solid structure for every class that supports different learning styles and that we build upon week after week. Even a brand new student can join at any point during the year and begin experiencing the benefits and joy that creative dance can inspire.
So, forget about the time when someone laughed or commented unkindly when you threw caution to the wind and danced like no one was watching! Come learn about the interesting and meaningful dance concepts that underlie all our most basic and complex movements. Experience the satisfaction of mastering dance skills you thought you could only watch as an audience member. And read about what Dance Wise dancers have to say about their experiences in the Dance Wise for Parkinson's Program. Then sign up to attend a class!
Elena Diehl is a dancer, dance educator, and dance enthusiast sharing her passion with you in the studio every week! Stop by the blog to get a sneak peek into each week's dance concept.