• Emily Running

Parkinson's Expression

Updated: Jun 10


I am so excited to be able to share this video with you. This is a project I worked on a number of years ago for the Brian Grant Foundation and is a performance that expresses the relationship between Parkinson's Disease and the human body using dance, spoken word, music and motion graphics as the vehicle for expression.

This was originally a live performance for the "Shake it til we Make It" Gala hosted by the Brian Grant Foundation, but it received such a powerful and positive response that the director (who is also a filmmaker) decided to turn it into a film as well.

As is often the case, the initial call I received was from the director, Rashad Floyd, saying 'I need dancers, but I don't even know where to start.' Rashad is a former NFL player turned filmmaker, but he mostly concentrates on sports. Brian Grant, a former NBA player is a close friend of his and asked him to create some sort of film documentary for the gala. Rashad had already conducted months of interviews with people with Parkinson's to gather the story you hear told by the voice over. He had then reached out to a wide variety of artists to each play a role. He knew that the representation of Parkinson's and the Human Body had to be expressed by dance.

When Rashad contacted me all he knew was he needed dancers but he didn't know where to find them or how to direct them. So that's where I came in. I met with him first and got a sense of the style of dance he was looking for. Then I went through my list of people to find the right dancers to meet his vision. We had a few rehearsals with Alicia (the human spirit) and Katie (Parkinson's) where Rashad gave me words, a vibe and music and I directed the two dancers in improvisation. Rashad pointed out things he liked about the improv and we crafted more set choreography.

Then we had a few rehearsals with Lyfe Dance Co who represented the symptoms. One very tricky aspect of this was taking true physical symptoms of a person with Parkinson's and turning it into movement that was honest but not mocking or disrespectful. We wanted to capture their experience in a more abstract physical way.

For me this piece is a reminder of how powerful the arts can be. So many people at the gala who have Parkinson's commented to us that they've never seen their experience so accurately and beautifully expressed. When performed live, there was not a single person in the room who didn't feel something after seeing it.

Rashad has tried to get this video shown in a number of venues on a larger scale but none so far have worked out, but I am very proud to have worked on this project and happy that I finally get to share it!

https://vimeo.com/148166770

Password: Art


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