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Dance for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Dance may palliate symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and, in this way, contribute to an increased quality of life for people with a movement disorder. Teachers Bridget Q. Fearn and Dawna P. Dryhorub have been offering courses for people with Parkinson’s Disease at tanzhaus nrw since 2016. The participants are encouraged to recapture their movement possibilities within a relaxed and open environment. With the aid of guided improvisation, they test and expand those movement possibilities. US-American dancer and choreographer Monica Gillette is one of the pioneers in this field, carrying her rich experience in dance for people with Parkinson’s Disease to Germany. The courses practiced at tanzhaus nrw, in turn, add important impulses to the field. The tanzhaus nrw offerings are open, and new participants are welcome at all stages and at any time.


Porträt Dawna P. Dryhorub und Bridget Q. Fearn

Bridget Q. Fearn & Dawna P. Dryhorub

When Dawna P. Dryhorub first started ballet dancing at age three, the decision was already taken: “I want to be a dancer!” She took additional classes in tap dance, jazz dance and folkloristic dance, subseqently pursuing her dance education at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre where she specialised in Graham and classical dance. She received an invitation to collaborate on a project in Düsseldorf during the mid-1990s and swiftly became an artist close to the “Werkstatt”, the precursor of tanzhaus nrw. The native Canadian remained in Germany and participated in various productions by, among others, Rodolpho Leoni and Samir Akika. She offered trainings at Folkwang Tanzstudio for many years and was a guest lecturer for classical dance at the Folkwang University of the Arts. 2020 will see Dawna concluding her Master’s degree in dance sciences from Bern University in 2020.

Bridget Q. Fearn comes from California and is a highly regarded colleague with a longstanding expertise in dance, bringing with her creativity, vibrancy, enthusiasm, openness and a lot of humour. First and foremost, she carries a wealth of experience in international dance and performance as well as in teaching. Bridget became a part of the tanzhaus nrw instructors’ family in 1987 and, with her knowledge, has been critical in shaping the course section in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap dance as well as in hip hop. Together with US-born dancer Marvin A. Smith, she imported an exciting new street jazz spirit, situated somewhere between urban and jazz dance, to Germany and to tanzhaus nrw in the 1990s. Some of her current students have been attending her classes for 25 years now. Also, the later established contact  between tanzhaus nrw and dancer, lecturer and choreographer Corey Action-Harrison from Oakland was also arbitrated by Bridget. Additionally, Bridget is a certified yoga teacher and works with people who have fallen ill with Parkinson’s Disease or multiple sclerosis. Apart from her more than 30 years of teaching experience, she danced on stages around the globe and receives choreography commissions from, among others, Staatstheater Mainz or for the German premiere of David Bowie’s “Lazarus” musical, directed by Matthias Hartmann at Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf.

Frau mit offenen, langen, welligen Haaren und einem orangenen Mantel vor grau-verschwommenem Hintergrund

Sara Houston

Professorin Sara Houston lehrt im Fachbereich Tanz an der University of Roehampton in London. Ihr Interesse gilt dem Community-Tanz und der Erforschung der sozialen und politischen Zusammenhänge, in denen Menschen tanzen. So forschte sie zu Tanz mit erwachsenen, männlichen Strafgefangenen in Schulen, Pflegeheimen und in Tanzkompanien.
Über einen Zeitraum von fünf Jahren forschte sie begleitend zu dem Projekt „Tanz für Menschen mit Parkinson“ des English National Ballet (2012 – 2015). Sie untersuchte in diesem Rahmen, wie sich die Teilnahme an Tanzprogrammen auf das soziale Umfeld und den Alltag der Teilnehmer*innen mit Parkinson auswirkt, sowie ihre Motivation für das (Weiter-)Tanzen und ihre künstlerische Auseinandersetzung mit Bewegung. Für ihre Parkinson-Forschung wurde sie 2011 mit dem Vitality for Life-Preis der BUPA-Stiftung ausgezeichnet.
In ihrem 2019 erschienen Buch „Dancing with Parkinson's“ schreibt Sara Houston über diese Erfahrung und ihre Forschungsergebnisse. Sie schreibt über den Wert des Tanzens für Menschen, die mit der neurodegenerativen Erkrankung Parkinson leben, sowie die positiven Auswirkungen des Tanzes auf ihre Lebenserfahrung und sich wandelnden Identitäten und Selbstwahrnehmungen.