|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 2018 - 2019 sessions will run on a slightly
different schedule from the Sacramento classes.
Fall session classes have begun and will run for 10 weeks, ending on Tuesday, March 19.
We'll take a very short break and resume classes on Tuesday, April 2.
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
To register for these classes, please contact Ruth Rosenberg, Director of Arts
Education and Artist Engagement, at the Mondavi .(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
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 Group)
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 ages."
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 class:
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 moving.”
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.