The Dance Well – Movement Research for Parkinson initiative was developed in 2013 in Bassano del Grappa with the aim of promoting dance in museums and other artistic places for people with Parkinson’s disease. It is configured as an alternative complementary rehabilitation intervention compared to traditional physiotherapy. Rehabilitation is an increasingly central element in Parkinson’s therapy and evidence of its effectiveness accumulates as controlled studies are carried out to assess its impact in terms of neuroprotection, neuroplasticity, and neurogenesis.
Dance Well – Movement Research for Parkinson is a dance program that includes various rehabilitation strategies (aerobic exercise, motor imagination, cueing techniques, proprioceptive and sensory-motor training). The practice of dance is enhanced by the logistical framework (museum, places of art) in order to allow motor, sensory, and emotional stimulation.
The initiatives at the Civic Museum of Bassano del Grappa, Civic Theater of Schio, and the Fresco Parkinson Center of Villa Margherita in Vicenza were very successful. Subsequently, the project was exported to Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Palazzo Spada in Rome, and other prestigious museums.
In addition to the active projects dedicated to accessibility, the experimentation of a new path dedicated to the inclusion of people with Parkinson disease has been added this year: ‘Living art with Parkinson’s’.
Thanks to a memorandum of understanding, the Fresco Parkinson Institute is the exclusive partner of the Municipality of Bassano del Grappa with regard to the research and training of dance teachers of the Dance Well project.
The approach developed by teachers of Dance Well is characterized by some peculiarities:
- DANCE CLASSES: The main objective of the initiative is artistic: the medical, motor, social, entertainment and other benefits, however important, are secondary aspects. The participants are identified as dancers to avoid being stigmatized as “Parkinson’s” or “elderly people”
- ARTISTIC ENVIRONMENT: The place must inspire the dancers. The environment must be beautiful and aesthetically spiritual and artistically dense. The initiative does not take place in hospital areas, gyms, or “sterile” environments. In Florence, the initiative takes place at Palazzo Strozzi in the context of the art exhibitions programmed in this exhibition space.
- PLATFORM and NON-METHOD: Starting from shared principles and objectives, each teacher creates their own class through music, techniques, and exercises chosen according to their skills and preferences. We do not want to teach specific techniques but we aim to provide a series of tools so that each dancer can create their own movement and dance using the choreographic instruments that he/she is familiar with. Each class is very different from each other while beginning from common principles. The didactic approach will never be frontal (with the teacher showing the steps in sequence and the participants invited to copy) but in each class we dance together in a continuous stream of music and movement.
- MIXED GROUPS: The classes are open to Parkinson’s patients, accompanying persons, young people, seniors, dancers, and choreographers. The class adapts to the skills of everyone to prevent boredom or discouragement. The mixed group allows collective growth, social inclusion, a sense of belonging to the group, mutual support, and avoids judgment or marginalization.
- MORE TEACHERS: A minimum of two teachers instruct the class. This facilitates the management of the group and visibility of the movement and the coordination between the various classes during the year. Every month to two months, the teacher-guide changes so that the dancers are stimulated at several levels and by different approaches. Periodically, dancers or guest choreographers will lead the class in an effort to facilitate growth of the program. Roles become temporarily reversed as the teachers are now encouraged to follow the dancer’s lead and the dancers will subsequently provide feedback to the teachers. The Initiative includes participation in international conferences and workshops in Bassano del Grappa, England, Holland and Germany.
- There is no RIGHT or WRONG: The teachers encourage the participants to not be influenced by external judgements. This approach is radically opposed to what happens in the academic dance classes where the achievement of results and standards of excellence induces the dancers to feel inferior to the optimum level of execution or performance. Everyone dances with their own body. It is suggested to focus on the importance of the movement’s intention more than the movement itself. This allows the option to raise and rotate your arm as desired without changing the artistic value and expressive potential.
For registration: www.palazzostrozzi.org