Mark Morris Dance Group
Program: Arts in Health
Area of Work: Arts
Grant Purpose: Dance for PD
Dance for PD®, a program of the Mark Morris Dance Group, is an award-winning, research-backed program that uses dance to welcome individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their families to experience the joys and benefits of physical and creative expression–while addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skill, depression and physical confidence. Created in 2001, the program offers free weekly dance, music, and movement classes for people with Parkinson’s and their care partners online and, during normal operations, at nine locations in New York City as well as comprehensive teacher training and certification, media resources, and performance activities throughout the year.
Purpose: To sustain and expand its ongoing programs and establish new partners in diverse communities in New York City.
Funds from the Illumination Fund sustain Dance for PD’s existing programs and help expand it to better engage Black, Latinx, and Asian communities in New York City, as part of an initiative to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, access to, and engagement in classes. Additional funding has supported expansion to new locations in the Bronx, Staten Island, Central Brooklyn, and Eastern Queens and has subsidized training costs for dance teaching artists of color in financial need.
Since its inception in 2001, Dance for PD expanded from one site in New York City to a network of affiliates in more than 300 communities in 25 countries around the world. New York City programs engage 1,500 individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners and families through free classes, teacher training, performance events, and streamed classes from the Brooklyn location. In 2019, in response to a voiced desire from the community to contribute to and create its own movement language and develop the grou
p’s artistic confidence and skill, Dance for PD relaunched its Dance for PD in Performance project. Through this project, 42 participants took part in a voluntary 6-month process in which they created, learned, and rehearsed choreography and supported all elements of a performance production for the public. All artists were paid, acknowledging the financial hardship that many people living with Parkinson’s encounter because of their physical disabilities.
Dance for PD also expanded online outreach during the Covid-19 lockdown – hosting daily online group classes, both synchronously and asynchronously, as well as creating a Dance by Phone resource for people without internet service. These initiatives serve thousands of people and have increased access worldwide.
Grantee page photo by Amber Star Merkens. Banner photo by Eddie Marritz
Index photo by Amber Star Merkens.
Banner photo by Eddie Marritz.