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Healing with music: Free dance classes being offered to Princeton area residents with Parkinson’s Disease

A Dance with PD course. Photo: Amber Star Merkens courtesy of Princeton University Concerts.

Princeton University Concerts and the American Repertory Ballet are teaming up to offer free dance classes to people with Parkinson’s Disease.

The collaboration aims to explore the intersection of music, dance, and Parkinson’s Disease while serving residents in the region who have the disease.

Starting on Monday, July 31, an instructor with the American Repertory Ballet will conduct free dance classes for people with Parkinson’s Disease in Princeton. Classes, led by Rachel Stanislawczyk, are also being offered in Middletown Township, as well as via Zoom.

Class participants will learn adapted movement from the Bourrée section of Mark Morris’ work “Falling Down Stairs” and will have the option to showcase what they have been working on as part of the Healing with Music event in March of 2024. All class participants will receive a free ticket to this event.

“We are thrilled to partner with Princeton University Concerts,” said American Repertory Ballet Executive Director Julie Diana Hench. “Dance for PD encourages participants not only to ‘think like dancers’ but also to think like musicians as well. Moving to music unlocks so much, especially for people living with Parkinson’s disease. This partnership with Princeton University Concerts presents a unique, holistic opportunity to expand on the American Repertory Ballet Dance for Parkinson’s program and offer a collaborative source of exploration, education, and inspiration.”

Princeton University Concerts began the Healing with Music series in 2022 to shine
a light on the ways music plays an integral role in people’s lives, particularly in the face of personal upheaval and adversity.

The March event will explore the intersection of music, dance, and Parkinson’s Disease. Panelists will include Dance with PD Founding Teacher David Leventhal, Dr. Concheta Tomaino and Princeton University Professor Elizabeth Margulis. Cellist Joshua Roman will provide live accompaniment for the dancers with his rendition of J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 3 for Unaccompanied Cello.

The Princeton Garden Theatre will also screen the documentary “Capturing Grace” in March. Directed by David Iverson, the film explores the development of the Dance for PD program by the Mark Morris Dance Group. Iverson, who has firsthand experience with Parkinson’s Disease and Dance for PD classes, will participate in a live question and answer session following the screening.

“Healing with Music has always been about continuing the dialogue around the vital role music plays in our lives,” said Princeton University Concerts Outreach Manager Dasha Koltunyuk. “These partnership programs around our Dance for PD Healing with Music program allow this dialogue to extend and continue further than ever before. We are so glad to be able to support the Parkinson’s community through the Healing with Music event itself and the collaborations which have blossomed from it.” 

Parkinson’s dance class schedules

Princeton Ballet School 5-week Summer Session
Address: 301 N. Harrison St, 2nd Floor, Princeton, NJ 08540
Day/Time: Mondays | 2:00 – 3:15 PM
Dates included: July 31, August 7, 14, 21, 28
Free to participants and caregivers.

Middletown Arts Center
Address: 36 Church St, Middletown Township, NJ 07748
Day/Time: Mondays 4:15 – 5:30 PM
Program is Ongoing
Free of charge to participants and caregivers.

Day/Time: Thursdays 11 a.m. until noon
Program is Ongoing
Free of charge to participants and caregivers. For more detailed information and Zoom link email Rachel at RStanislawczyk@arballet.org, or call Lindsay Cahill at 732.249.1254, ext. 19.

To register for classes, visit the American Repertory Ballet website.

The program is supported by a community grant from The Parkinson’s Foundation and is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.