Capturing Grace, a film by Dave Iverson was presented in April by the SF Dance Film Festival in partnership with the Dance Division of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University and in association with Dance for PD and Mark Morris Dance Group.
Capturing Grace documents the Mark Morris Dance Group Dance for PD program. The program, filmed over the course of a year, culminates in a dance performed by people with Parkinson’s disease. The film expresses the joy of the dancers and choreographers in discovering the fluidity of movement that is possible for people with Parkinson’s.
After the showing, there was a panel discussion with panelists Dr. Helen Bronte-Stewart, Director of the Stanford Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center, Dave Iverson, filmmaker, and David Leventhal, director of the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD program. “Dance fits like a glove when the choreography of life becomes difficult for people with Parkinson’s,” said Leventhal. He explained that the choreography of dance enables people to feel a sense of control. He said that “the act of dance is being in the moment,” and that is the very issue that challenges people with Parkinson’s diesease.
Dance draws on a “different system that is like a sensory override in the brain,” according to Dr. Bronte-Stewart. Dance movement can trigger emotion and can actually override the erratic movement of dyskinesia. She described the forward-thinking efforts underway at Stanford to create a dance studio that will include dance classes in Stanford’s new neuroscience building.
Leventhal shared that he was recently chosen as one of five people to partner with Google glasses on research for different uses for the glasses. His ideas, already in research stages include work on a screen in four modules that is a walk activity; a game called “unfreeze me” that offers a way for people to break out of their freezes with a march, waltz or tango; and a prototype for a dance tool kit.
The presentation was inspirational, and each of the dancers in the story portrayed themselves with “their own signature” as Dr. Bronte-Stewart termed it. Dave Iverson described the dance group succinctly; people with Parkinsons’ disease are,”The bravest people I know.”
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