BrainDance: Exploring Parkinson's with Dance.

BrainDance is a collaborative project that brings together dance choreographers, neuroscientists, physicians, philosophers and people with Parkinson's disease. People with Parkinson’s, artists and scientists have a different understanding of movements and movement disorders but together they can share ideas in an informal setting.

Two choreographers from Theater Freiburg in Germany, Monica Gillette and Mia Habib, bring their artistic expertise to the project and provide dance classes for people with Parkinson's and exchange information and findings with neuroscientists and philosophers at the University of Freiburg.  

Here's Steffan Lukasch, who has been living with Parkinson's since 2002, talking about BrainDance while Monica Gillette gets lost within the movements of Parkinson's. 


I recently saw Monica speak about the program and results at SwitchPoint.


There were four research tracks in the program:

  1. Each week Parkinson's Dancers would attend dance classes.

  2. The choreographers, Parkinson's dancers and neurologists would meet to share their theoretical knowledge.

  3. The program inspired physical thinking and helped the dancers see the commonalities in thinking about movement that was shared by all participants. 

  4. They conducted Open Houses, not to show what was discovered but the types of things they were questioning. 

As Monica says in her SwitchPoint speech, typically when you’re talking about marginalized people in a population, you are talking about giving them visibility or a voice, but in BrainDance the Parkinson’s dancer's were able to step back and be an expert. This sort of autonomy is sacred to those who are finding their way inside a disease.