Even through the Trey McIntyre Project dance company disbanded earlier this year and choreographer Trey McIntyre is working on other projects, the organization will continue to create its signature dance engagement and enrichment programs in Boise. Since is was founded in 2004, TMP created innovative ways to engage an audience outside of a traditional theater setting — in the streets, hospitals and schools.
Next week, former TMP dancer Elizabeth Keller, who joined Ballet Idaho last month, will begin the TMP Dance for Parkinson’s — an 11-week class series that will use dance, movement therapy and music to help people with Parkinson’s disease to build coordination, control and balance.
The class meets from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Mondays from Sept. 15 through Nov. 24 at the Ballet Idaho Academy, 501 N. 8th St., Boise. The academy is donating the studio space. To register, email Keller, or call (832) 594-7887. Classes are free. The program can accommodate people in wheelchairs and walkers and is open to Parkinson’s sufferers, their caregivers and family members. For more information about Parkinson’s disease, contact the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation.
Besides the physical benefits, Keller says the program reaches people beyond just their physical needs.
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“You see changes in their state of mind,” she says. “Depression is just as noticeable as a tremor. When they come into the studio they’re no longer a Parkinson’s patient. They’re a dance student. Their outlook on living with the disease gets brighter.”
Keller trained with the Mark Morris Dance Group in its Dance for PD method the company developed with the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group. Fortuitously, the two organizations have offices across the street from one another in New York. There is evidence that movement therapies such as dance and tai chi help people with Parkinson’s connect mind and body, creating more control and grace in their movement.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease that is marked by tremors, muscular rigidity and slow, imprecise movement. She started teaching it when the company was touring in its last season. Now, she is very excited to recreate the program in Boise, where she will continue to live and dance.