Dance Matters: Dance Heals All
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is expanding the scope of its artistic activities with some outside-the-box thinking: using dance as an activity to improve the quality of people’s health. On April 23, LGBCM officially announced the creation of the world’s first National Centre for Dance Therapy, in partnership with health and higher-education institutions in Quebec. “We’re increasing our outreach, bridging the health and arts sectors,” says LGBCM executive director Alain Dancyger.
At left: Photo by Marie-Reine Mattera, design by Upperkut, Courtesy LGBCM.
Canada has few accredited dance therapists, and those that are, were certified through American Dance Therapy Association programs. The new center offers three interconnected services: dance/movement therapy, clinical research, and a graduate-level degree training program in dance therapy. The company is partnering with New York’s 92Y Harkness Dance Center and licensing its ADTA-certification curriculum.
This September, the first 20 students will be selected. Candidates must either be enrolled in an MA program, or have five years’ professional dance experience—a requirement that, Dancyger says, is likely to provide new job opportunities for professional dancers transitioning out of performing careers. Three intensive three-week training sessions at LGBCM’s Montreal-based studios will start in July 2014, continuing over an 18-month period. A multitude of employment possibilities will await graduates, both at the center and within the health care system.
The first phase of pilot research projects, pegged at $285,000 (Canadian), is funded by Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services. The new center has teamed up with Concordia University’s PERFORM Centre, a clinical research facility promoting healthy living, to study whether dance can improve physical and cognitive health in elderly populations. Other studies could involve children with physical or sensory deficiencies, as well as research with cancer patients.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.