SCD and NCF Launch 'Physically Integrated Dance Series' to Thwart Parkinson's

The Giving Coast


Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD) in collaboration with New College of Florida (NCF) recently launched a virtual dance series to thwart the perception of Parkinson’s disease and disabilities. Leymis Bolaños Wilmott, founder and artistic director of SCD as well as professor of dance at NCF, believes movement is a pathway to personal empowerment, and that pathway should always be accessible to people of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, abilities and experience levels. 

The Physically Integrated Dance Series expands on New College’s annual Dance for Parkinson partnership event with SCD by offering physically integrative movement classes, performances, both in-person and virtual, as well as special offerings designed to honor National Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Overall, the series aims to show all its participants that dance is for anybody and everybody. It is also to be free and open to the public as part of the New College Connecting the Arts and Humanities on Florida’s Creative Coast initiative, which is funded by a five-year $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, shares New College's Senior Editor Abby Weingarten in the Office of Communications and Marketing.

The series kicked off on April 1 with a well-attended virtual performance by Parkinson’s Place, a Sarasota-based nonprofit for those living with Parkinson's disease on the Suncoast, along with NCF participants, and co-led by SCD teaching artists Xiao-Xuan Yang Dancingers and Elisha Byerly. The power of movement will be showcased in a multitude of other events throughout the remaining April series, led by guest artists who live with disabilities. 

Dancer Stephanie Bastos will perform an urban contemporary routine and host physically integrated/inclusive dance workshops from April 5 to 10. SCD hosts an in-studio open rehearsal of Timeline—a dance theatre piece that illuminates the themes of resiliency and vulnerability—which will take place on April 9 and 10, then dance educator Dwayne Scheuneman of REVolutions Dance will teach inclusive workshops focused on diversity from April 12 to 17; a screening of Life After Life film with a post-screening talkback with Dr. Christopher Boulton and Scheuneman will take place on April 16; and the series will culminate with a SCD performance of Revolutions Dance + Revyouth on April 17.

“There is a big interest in art, health and dance therapy among our students," says Wilmott. "And, every year, we have something at New College that brings awareness to Parkinson’s disease, integrating our students with people in the community." These collaborative dance projects with NCF students and those from Parkinson Place are in its third year running. The event has been acclaimed for benefitting its participants with improvements in flexibility, strength, coordination, posture and breathing, and most notably, creating an outlet for freedom of expression. “Dance for Parkinson reflects on these benefits, but more prominently captures the multigenerational, physically integrated dance experience, and opens our eyes to how dance can be a tool for encouragement, for wellness, for building community and for challenging us,” Wilmott says. “Dance is what connects us. Dance should not discriminate.

Photo courtesy of New College of Florida

For more information on the Physically Integrated Dance Series, a full schedule of events and registration, visit here.

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