Our History

The Network was born out of a series of meetings organised by Dance Umbrella around its presentations of the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in the UK. MMDG had started work with the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group (BPG) in 2001 to devise a programme for people with Parkinson’s. In 2005 and 2007 Dance Umbrella held awareness days where MMDG presented their work. These were attended by students, dancers, teachers and a handful of individuals already working in this field. In 2008 Dance Umbrella, MMDG and BPG with the support of American Airlines staged a day at English National Ballet studios. Since then, a growing collection of teachers has emerged and meets regularly to share experiences. In 2011 and 2012 the group met to discuss how it could organise itself most effectively to promote and expand its the work. The Dance for Parkinson’s Network was launched in April 2012.

Key Dates

2001 Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) moves into its new home in Brooklyn and is approached by Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group (BPG) about starting dance classes for people with Parkinson’s

2005 Dance Umbrella (DU) organises the 4th UK tour by MMDG and includes a programme to increase awareness of Dance for Parkinson’s

  • meeting at Parkinson’s Disease Society (PDS ) in London
  • pilot workshops in London and Edinburgh
  • meeting with potential partners in Edinburgh, London, Cardiff
  • awareness day for interested and experienced teachers of Dance for PD in London

2008 DU organises a full day seminar and workshop in collaboration with MMDG and BPG to raise awareness of Dance for People with Parkinson’s. Guest speakers include Dr John P Harris, Olie Westheimer, David Leventhal, and Amanda Fogg. Workshop taught by 3 members of MMDG.

2009 DU organises the first training day for teachers of Dance for PD in London with members of MMDG, 8 teachers and 6 observers attend.

2010 DU organises teacher training in London with MMDG incorporating a workshop with participants from 3 PD groups (Wimbledon, Croydon, and Kentish Town) Teachers and participants are also invited to attend performances of Mark Morris’ L’Allegro,
il penseroso ed il moderato at the London Coliseum. Dr Daniel Glaser, Wellcome Trust speaks to Network members. ENB pilots weekly classes at its home in Kensington. Sara Houston and Ashley McGill, University of Roehampton begin research programme. Network members (Joanne Duff, Anna Gillespie, Mo Morgan, Daphne Cushnie and Amanda Fogg) co-present workshops at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Glasgow to accompany Olie Westheimer’s presentation about Dance for PD. Learn To Tango starts providing classes.

2011 More teacher training is organised in April and November, new classes begin in Hampton, Surrey. Dr Sara Houston and Ashley McGill win BUPA Foundation’s Vitality for Life Prize for their research with ENB; ENB research programme extended to a further three years including new classes outside London.

2012 Members of the Network agree the aims, mission and values of the Network. First website launched.

2013 David Leventhal, Director Dance for PD mentors Network members giving its first 2 day training residency at Roehampton University which is quickly oversubscribed. Members of the Network contribute to Culture, Health and Wellbeing Conference in Bristol and to the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal.

2014 Administration of Network moves from Dance Umbrella to Foundation for Community Dance and 2 day training takes place at Foundation’s Summer School. The Network’s first Steering Group formally elected. Parkinson’s UK bring Network into consultation about giving more empowerment to people with Parkinson’s.