BROOKLYN, N.Y. — For the past 20 years, David Leventhal has been teaching dance not only as an art but as a form of healing.
“The transformation that happens from the beginning of class to the end is what compelled me to want to teach this community from the very first class,” said Leventhal.
After 14 years of dancing professionally with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Leventhal was inspired to try something new. With the help of two other instructors, he started Dance for PD at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn - a dance class specifically designed for individuals with Parkinson’s.
“When they come into this space, they don’t have to explain anything about themselves,” said Leventhal.
For those in the class living with Parkinson’s, they say it gives them a sense of peace. For this hour, they’re in control.
“What dance does is it provides them a way to change their Parkinson's story. And all of that is connected to movement which is just something that in Parkinson’s becomes such a challenging issue,” said Leventhal.
The instructors and their volunteers focus on making sure every movement is adaptable, allowing everyone the ability to participate.
“Approaching walking, as artists, they’re able to access the nitty gritty of how to walk and, we hope, bring that information out with them into their daily lives,” said Leventhal.
Leventhal is proud of the growth of his program. Dance for PD has made its way to more than 30 countries. During the height of the pandemic, participants were able to join virtually, experiencing the class from the comfort of their home.
“What started as a program for people with Parkinson’s to engage in dance, has become a lifeline for people living with Parkinson and their families,” said Leventhal.
For choreographing healing, David Leventhal is our New Yorker of the Week.