Dance for PD at WPC 2013

David at WPC 2013 Photo by Christian Tessier comp
Photo by Christian Tessier

Three themes ran through this year’s World Parkinson Congress in Montreal: patient empowerment, the importance of staying active, and the value of community. That thread was captured beautifully by WPC Ambassador Bob Kuhn: “Illness begins with I, Wellness begins with We.” It’s no wonder, then, that WPC delegates were so enthusiastic about the Dance for PD demo class 65 of them attended, or the two screenings of Dave Iverson’s documentary Capturing Grace, or the panel of researchers and practitioners who addressed the value of dance in living well with Parkinson’s.

Dance for PD seemed to represent the Congress’ zeitgeist–the intersection of empowerment, movement, and community that happen naturally in a dance class. We reinforced those themes through “Think Like a Dancer” table slips, short inspiring messages about integrating dance into daily life. These themes melded again during the last plenary session, when Pamela Quinn’s filmed duet with David Leventhal was screened as a vivid example of the choice to define oneself through confident action and individual expression in the face of challenge.

For an excellent summary of the WPC from the perspective of a person with Parkinson’s, read PD advocate Jon Palfreman’s Letter from Montreal.

WPC by the numbers
This year’s Congress in Montreal was the third such triennial event–and Dance for PD has had a presence at all three. In Montreal, there were 3,334 active delegates from 64 countries, including South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Ethiopia, Argentina and beyond. Twenty-four nonprofit organizations, including Mark Morris Dance Group/Dance for PD and Brooklyn Parkinson Group, were represented. Over the course of the three days, delegates heard 188 speakers and saw nearly 600 posters.

The breakdown of the delegates at the WPC included:
* 40% Neuroscientists, Neurologists, Physicians, Geriatricians, Nurses, Rehab Specialists (PT, OT, SLP)
* 25% People with Parkinson’s
* 15% Caregivers/ Care partners/ Family Members
* 11% Nonprofit employees, Media, Guests
* 9% registered as ‘other’

The next WPC will take place September 20 – 23, 2016 in Portland, Oregon.