To be a dancer is to be in tune with your own physicality. To be fully aware of every muscle, in control of every movement. To be your body’s master.
It is a feeling most people with Parkinson’s disease can only remember.
A degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, Parkinson’s can cause stiffness, shaking and problems with balance. It also may leave people self-conscious, and reluctant to leave their homes.
The Dance & Parkinson’s program at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, however, uses music and movement to empower them. And a new film from the school’s Documentary Film Lab captures just how moving, and joyful, that process can be.
“Sometimes the class is hard to get started, the folks schmooze so much,” jokes Jeff Friedman, director of the school’s MFA dance program. “That’s something I hadn’t expected – the social connections this class creates. One man told me, ‘This is the only thing I come out of the house to do.’”