In experimenting with collective and intimate movement in contrast to each other, I have been draw to the idea of how we initiate movement. Initiation of movement as an individual has to do with how we relate to the body – do we see the body as carving pathways in the space, do we see the body as making concrete shapes, do we relate the body to itself through an opening and closing of body parts, do we initiate movement from an external perspective, do we look inwardly to initiate movement from an internal impulse…

The result of our first experiment – Collective Field (2017) – has shifted my perspective on initiation of movement and I am intrigued to continue experimenting with different ways to inspire creative, dance responses from the intimate space – movement initiated by the dancers individually.

Dance is a multi-sensory art form involving visual, auditory and tactile cueing, as well as transformative tools such as storytelling and characterisation effecting escapism. In Parkinson’s dance we have learned that cuing – a well-established technique for improved locomotion in people with Parkinson’s – can come in multifaceted approaches from the visual (mirroring), to language (imagery), to auditory (musical pulse). Dance incorporates all of these things in layers that function to provide cues to people with Parkinson’s at all angles. As suggested by Peterson and Smulders – cueing also draws attention away from the task

Attention plays an important role in the efficacy of cueing. For example, as reduced movement automaticity may contribute to poorer gait function (e.g., smaller, more variable steps) in people with PD (4), external cues may act as pace-makers, taking the place of this additional cognitive control and reducing the amount of attention needed to maintain stable gait

– Peterson and Smulders (2015)

This feeling of escaping Parkinson’s through cueing movement could be likened to ‘tricking’ the body to move unconsciously. In collective approaches to movement in dance, external cues are used widely to connect people – music, devices, patterning etc link dancers together in an unconscious unison. In Parkinson’s, what if this unconscious ‘tricking’ of the dancer through external cues is disrupting the possibilities for conscious understanding and control of the body. ‘Attentional’ cueing or ‘internal’ cueing, teaches the dancer to think of movement possibilities, and one might argue this gives ownership and control back to the dancer to ‘train’ his or herself to find possibilities for movement from within.

This idea links to the concept of collective versus intimate, as it is in the collective that we most frequently draw on external cues, and in the intimate when dancers are challenged to draw on internal cues for movement possibilities. Both are valuable and one should not be dropped in favour of another. However it is interesting to consider on which side we tend to err when delivering dance sessions for people with Parkinson’s. In reflecting on the values of my own dance practice, I consider my approach to respect and value the contributions of all dancers, not a practice that aims to normalise movement.