Megan Walker Straight is a dance dynamo who has helped bring Dance for PD® to British Columbia. In early 2015, Megan's mother told her about the dance program, a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group. Megan, herself a professional dancer, was involved with a different New York dance company and knew many of the instructors involved. She was immediately interested in how Dance for PD® focuses on creativity and dance as a means to bring change to people living with Parkinson's. As she was researching the program she watched the award winning film, Capturing Grace, which documents a group of people with Parkinson's taking Dance for PD® and preparing for their performance. Megan became passionate about the cause and was awarded a Fellowship to train with the Dance for Parkinson's group. Originally from BC, Megan began teaching Dance for PD® at the West Vancouver Senior Centre in September of 2015.
Megan clarifies, "Dance for PD® is not therapy or an exercise class, although our class is both therapeutic and physical. Our goal is aesthetic rather than technical. We seek to move beautifully, with strength, expressing feelings and telling stories through movement while stimulating creativity and imagination." Dance for PD® participants have reported improved Parkinson's symptoms, claiming that the program can help manage tremors, rigidity, mood, sleep and automatic functions. The benefits are not only physical. Groups tend to bond through compassion and a shared interest in movement. Megan states, "I have seen people developing a sense of confidence and grace in the face of their challenge to learn and execute movement. I have also seen how practice and familiarity with other dancers in the class allow for decreased self-consciousness and an increased ability to actually move and to be expansive and expressive."
Individuals interested in taking a Dance for PD® class should know that no experience is required. Everyone brings their own unique skill sets to class. They dance as a group while embracing differences. Participants who prefer to remain seated throughout the class can still participate through modified dance moves. This is truly a special program, and Parkinson Society British Columbia is pleased to have been able to work with Megan by bringing Dance for PD® instructor training to Vancouver this past weekend. Megan's goal is to nurture community and relationships. In her words, "dance can offer strength and extension, courage and expression. It can also offer joyful musicality and time to be present with your body as it remembers to soar."