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May 11, 2022

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews David Leventhal, Program Director at Dance for PD — a part of the Mark Morris Dance Group. Through the program — which is on its 20th year — David teaches dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s disease and trains other teaching artists to do the same. What started as a humble six-person dance class has now grown to serve 300 communities across 30 different countries. David has received numerous humanitarian awards for his work and has contributed to several books and peer-reviewed studies on dance and Parkinson’s Disease.

David is a true believer in the healing power of dance and is proactively teaching others to also believe. There’s a reason why his course has exploded over the past 20 years — the effect of dance on those with Parkinson’s Disease is simply too great to deny. On the podcast, David gives a brief history of Dance for PD and explains why he believes music and movement has a profound impact on all people — but especially on those with Parkinson’s.

Moving Quotes:

”It’s that combination of the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional — together, inseparable — that makes dance such a powerful tool to maintain wellbeing and quality of life for everybody. But, particularly, for people with Parkinson’s.”

“Dance and dancers have a significant role in maintaining and improving quality of life among our older neighbors — and, in our case, among people with Parkinson’s.”

”In our classes, we’re not there to teach a therapy session. We’re not there to talk about Parkinson’s. We’re there to address movement as dancers. And it’s helpful for people with Parkinson’s to think about movement the way that dancers do.”

”Music is like a red carpet that rolls out in front of you. Dance and music together are a red carpet that provides a roadmap for people with Parkinson’s to move.”

”Keep your eyes open for opportunities that interest you.”

”Follow your passions. Multiple passions. Sometimes dancers get trapped in that one passion. As much as you love dance and are committed to it, keep thinking about other things that interest you… Keep nurturing those other passions while you’re still dancing.”


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

2:49: David discusses the joy of leading a program that’s going on its 20th year and the role of dance in helping those with Parkinson’s Disease.

5:19: David gives a brief history of his program and details what’s involved.

10:19: Leventhal explains the events that led to his company growing from a small 6-person class to a global network.

14:03: David describes the three distinct groups of people that have been integral to the program’s growth.

18:30: Leventhal gives his theories on why music and movement are uniquely effective versus traditional therapy methods.

25:56: David describes how his Dance for PD courses are both similar and different from country-to-country.

31:25: Leventhal, who holds a nontraditional career in dance, gives some advice for anyone pursuing a career in dance that’s away from the stage.

37:12: David discusses the future for Dance for PD and how he’d like the company to become more accessible in many different ways.


Bullet List of Resources – 

David Leventhal

Dance for PD