Middle East News 247

‘Still Dancing’ returns to raise awareness on Parkinson’s Disease

Dubai, 22 May 2023

Social enterprise Movement Mantra and independent theatre company Third Half Theatre revive their original dance-theatre production ‘Still Dancing’ to raise awareness and reignite conversations about Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The production which premiered in the UAE in 2019 on World Parkinson’s Day returns after a 4-year hiatus with 2 shows at the Emirates Theatre this May, to tell the true story of a Parkinson’s Hero.

Movement Coach and Founder of Movement Mantra, Dr. Vonita Singh, has been championing the Parkinson’s cause in the UAE for the last 10 years. She produced ‘Still Dancing’ in 2019 to give people with PD and their families a message of hope through the real-life story of her father whom she lost to Parkinson’s in 2009.

According to the World Health Organization, disability and death due to Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is increasing faster than any other neurological disorder. A new incidence study by the US based Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that a person receives a PD diagnosis every six minutes. #Take6forPD, this year’s global theme for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April 2023, made a public plea to take 6 mins to help raise awareness by participating in research, finding expert care or educating the community about the condition. With over 10 million PD cases globally and the numbers expect to double by 2030 including a higher incidence of early onset cases, medical journal Lancet has dubbed PD a figurative pandemic.

“It is not enough to talk about Parkinson’s once a year during World Parkinson’s Awareness Month. We don’t have publicly available figures for the UAE but incidental data from my interaction with medical fraternity and PD members tell me the numbers are on par with global figures. Particularly alarming is the rise of young onset cases, people as young as 20. It’s time we stepped up on building awareness through something immediate and effective like theatre. It is our hope that #Take2forStillDancing will contribute to the cause.” elaborated Dr. Singh on her motivation to bring Still Dancing back for a second round.

Award-winning Writer & Director and founder of Third Half Theatre, Sanjeev Dixit, the mastermind behind the theatre production, commented on the play’s comeback and why it resonates with audiences, “We had such a beautiful response to the play when we first staged it. I guess, while it is a play on Parkinson’s, at the heart of it, it is still quite simply the story of a family. A family like yours and mine, with the same hopes and dreams. The play follows their lives, their joys and of course, their hardships. And I think it resonated with the audience with that simplicity and sincerity of purpose. Still Dancing is essentially a portrayal of the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit.”

United by their passion to campaign for a social cause, the play has a strong cast and crew of 20 members consisting of theatre professionals, dancers and enthusiasts from different backgrounds, making this production a true community theatre project created by the people, for the people of the UAE.

Explaining the role and importance of dance in the production, Dr. Singh said, “People with Parkinson’s Disease are recommended physical activity, mental stimulation and social engagement, and without a doubt, dance an expressive art form provides all three.  Thinking and moving like a dancer instinctively applies to most aspects of living with Parkinson’s.  Using the brain consciously to guide the body is the basic tool of dance and a person with Parkinson’s needs to do just that when the autonomous commands are compromised.  Making mindful movement a mantra is the message we want people to take away.”

Celebrated International Kathak dancer and Artistic Director of Gurukul, Pali Chandra has choreographed the dance segments of the play which will be performed by young dancers from her ensemble. The project is supported by German Neuroscience Center, one of Dubai’s leading clinic for Neurology and Psychiatry and New York based Dance for PD, the internationally acclaimed not-for-profit initiative that promotes the effectiveness and benefits of dance for Parkinson’s.

Following the re-run of the show in Dubai this May, Still Dancing prepares to tour in India later this year, featuring a whole new cast based out of India. “This story needs to be told and may these conversations continue…it is the need of the hour” concluded Dr. Singh.

Show details

Title          :     Still Dancing – A true story of a Parkinson’s Hero

Venue     :     Emirates Theatre, Jumeirah

Date         :     May 26th and 27th

Time         :     Gates Open 7.30pm | Show starts 8.00pm

Duration :     90 mins

Tickets     :     AED 80 | Available on Platinumlist.net

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