Orange Alert

SU partners with Mark Morris Dance Group for 'Movement for Healthy Aging' April 11-12

Two-day workshop focuses on dance, Parkinson's disease

March 27, 2014, by Sarah Scalese

Donna Korol, associate professor of biology
Donna Korol, associate professor of biology

Tumay Tunur and Donna Korol, biology professors in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences, are collaborating with SU's Arts Engage and the New York City-based Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) for "Movement for Healthy Aging: A Community Workshop About Dance and Parkinson’s." The workshop runs Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, and is free and open to the public. To register, contact Tunur at or 504-570-0752 by Wednesday, April 9.

The event seeks to explore how dance effectively complements traditional medical, surgical, and therapeutic interventions for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Recent studies show that dance can help people manage their symptoms and quality of life, while maintaining a sense of grace and dignity, as they face challenges of living with a chronic condition.

Workshop sessions will kick off on Friday at 5 p.m. with an opening reception; poster session; and test screening of Capturing Grace, a new documentary about dancers with PD who join forces with MMDG to stage a unique performance. Friday’s activities will be held in The Lundgren Room (106) of the Life Sciences Complex (107 College Place, Syracuse). Misty Owens, a dance teacher who was part of the team that developed MMDG’s Dance for PD® program with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group (BPG), will lead and facilitate the sessions.

Saturday's workshop will take place in the MIND Lab of the AXA Equitable Tower (100 Madison Ave., Syracuse). The schedule is as follows:

10-11 a.m.: Introductory Presentation: "Why Dance for PD"

11 a.m.-12 p.m.: Experiential Workshop: "Transforming Challenges Into Movement Solutions"

12-12:30 p.m.: Film: Why Dance for PD

2-3:30 p.m.: Dance for PD Community Class (Open to people with PD, as well as their families, friends and caretakers)

3:30-4:30 p.m.: Community Roundtable

4:45-6 p.m.: Panel Discussion

7-8:15 p.m.: Additional screening of Capturing Grace

Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative movement disorder that results when the cells in the brain that produce the chemical dopamine are damaged and can no longer produce sufficient levels of the chemical. PD usually progresses slowly in most people. Although symptoms vary from person to person, PD symptoms often include a resting tremor, rigidity, slow movement, and impairments in balance and coordination. Approximately 50,000-60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed in the United States each year. It is estimated that more than 1 million people in the United States live with PD.

Department of Biology
The Department of Biology has an active faculty who team up with post-doctoral scientists, graduate students, undergraduates, and high school students to conduct state-of-the-art research on neuroscience, development, cell signaling, biocomplexity, evolutionary biology, environmental science, among other topics. Several faculty are interested in PD and other related neurological disorders. 

Dance for PD®
Dance for PD is a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) and Brooklyn Parkinson Group (BPG). The collaboration started offering free dance classes for people with PD in 2001, after BPG's Executive Director Olie Westheimer approached MMDG with the initial idea for a class. Since 2005, both organizations have expanded the Dance for PD program into more than a hundred communities around the world by engaging participants in Dance for PD master classes; training teachers through intensive workshops; and nurturing relationships among organizations, so that ongoing classes are available to local communities. A DVD series is also available.

The Dance for PD teaching approach is built on the premise that professionally trained dancers are movement experts whose knowledge is useful to people with PD. Dancers know all about stretching and strengthening muscles, in addition to balance and rhythm. Most importantly, dancers know about the power of dance to concentrate mind, body, and emotion on movement; they use their thoughts, imagination, eyes, ears, and touch to control their bodies.

Mark Morris Dance Group
Mark Morris Dance Group

Mark Morris Dance Group
The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) was formed in 1980 and gave its first concert that year in New York City. The company’s touring schedule steadily expanded to include cities in the U.S. and in Europe, and, in 1986, MMDG made its first national television program for the PBS series Dance in America. In 1988, MMDG was invited to become the national dance company of Belgium and spent three years in residence at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. The company returned to the United States in 1991 as one of the world’s leading dance companies, performing across the country and at major international festivals.

Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., MMDG has maintained and strengthened its ties to several cities around the world, most notably its West Coast home, Cal Performances,at the University of California, Berkeley, and its Midwest home, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. MMDG also appears regularly in New York, N.Y.; Boston, Mass.; Fairfax, Va.; and Seattle, Wash. MMDG made its debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival in 2002 and at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 2003 and has since been invited to both festivals annually. From the company’s many London seasons, it has also garnered two Laurence Olivier Awards.

Brooklyn Parkinson Group
Celebrating its 10th year, Brooklyn Parkinson Group (BPG) develops and provides innovative arts-based dance, movement, and singing classes, as well as community-based exercise programs that enrich the lives of persons with PD and their families in the New York metropolitan area. BPG's offerings engage mind, body, and spirit, and encourage persons with Parkinson’s Disease to remain active within their community.

Media Contact

Sarah Scalese