Gotta Dance!

In Musicophilia, Dr. Sacks writes about music and its therapeutic effects for movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome. His Awakenings patients (who had an extremely rare and severe form of parkinsonism) were frozen, virtually motionless, for decades.  But even when medications failed, they would respond dramatically to music. Astonishingly, although they could not walk, they could dance; though they could not talk, they could sing.

This fall, Britain’s Rambert Dance Company will debut a new dance work inspired by Awakenings, with music composed by Tobias Picker and choreography by Aletta Collins. The piece will have its world premiere in Manchester, England, on September 22, 2010 and tour the UK this fall, with a London opening on November 9, 2010.  Dr. Sacks says he is “thrilled—and honored—that my book was a spark for the firing-up of Tobias Picker’s creative powers. I look forward to seeing this new work inspired by the Awakenings patients.”

While we’re on the subject of dance, kudos to the Mark Morris Dance Group for their pioneering work collaborating with people who have Parkinson’s disease. The MMDG has offered their Dance for PD classes to communities all over the world. (Find out more on NPR’s All Things Considered.) Dance therapy is traditionally aimed at improving mental and emotional health, but it’s great for physical and neurological health as well!