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Make your moves count for something

The When I Dance competition raises awareness of Parkinson’s by bringing together dance communities of all backgrounds and abilities. Dance connects people and everyone can enjoy it. But did you know it can relieve Parkinson’s symptoms?  

See the winners of the competition and read more about their entries. 

The winners

We're pleased to announce the winners of the When I Dance competition. Congratulations! Thank you all for sharing your talent. Take a look at their entries where you can read the story behind each one and the judges' comments.
 

Solo category winner

+ Valerie's Dance

Entered by Geoff Brokate. Valerie is a regular participant in our weekly dance class for people with Parkinson’s which has been running for 3 years in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

The film captures Valerie’s natural movements and their connection to nature, from the shake of a hand and the rustle of a leaf, to the warmth of the sun and the memory of her children playing in the park.

The fiddle plays in response to Valerie’s dance which is set under the branches of a tree in her local park. It follows a woman struggling with the grief and loss one faces in daily life when living with a condition such as Parkinson’s combined with the hope and courage needed to remain strong and alive.

"It feels like I am being robbed every day and stripped of my identity” is a quote taken from one of my local branch members when asked what it is like having Parkinson’s.

The judges say... This is beautifully performed and has been captured so artistically on film. Valerie’s performance shows a very expressive and brave response to the task. The live music matches seamlessly with the heartfelt dancing, and as viewers we felt connected to the dancer – watching we felt almost part of the performance, alongside the dancer and the musician. We hugely appreciate the thought that has been given to choosing the location - an open green space which connects her unique and very personal response to dance with nature, encouraging perhaps the sense of freedom Valerie feels when dancing. There is a strong intent behind the piece and it is performed with clarity.

 

Parkinson's group category winner

+ Scottish Ballet

Entered by Miriam Early. We asked our class how dancing made them feel, and lots of people came back with 'I Feel Good... danananananana, I knew that I would' so we decided to use James Brown as our inspiration.

The video features class members, volunteers and staff from our 2 weekly classes, inspired by the journey that dancing takes us on - from feeling disconnected from our bodies and ourselves, to feeling liberated, playful, uplifted and connected.

Choreography is a joint effort from all class participants!

The judges say... This was simple and pure fun, and shows exactly how the joy of dance can be for everyone! Viewers watching will want to get up and join in - it’s a message to let all your inhibitions go, not take life too seriously, and just dance whoever you are! We felt full of joy watching this video and are pleased to award this prize to Scottish Ballet.

 

Group category
winner

+ Charlotte and Jessica

This is Charlotte Douglas and Jessica Templeton performing their contemporary number to Skipping Stones. Charlotte's grandfather has got Parkinsons and she is very aware of the impact it has on the whole family. This cause is close to our hearts and therefore that is why the girls wanted to perform together, putting their feelings and expressions into action through dance.

The judges say... Charlotte and Jessica’s duet was expressively performed and technically excellent. They danced very well together, with a strong ‘togetherness’ evident between the two dancers, which is very important for this category. Adding another layer to this sensitive performance is that it has been inspired by Charlotte’s grandfather having Parkinson’s, and the insight this has given Charlotte into life with this condition. We feel that their younger age cannot be ignored too, so all in all we feel they are worthy winners in this category.

Special recognition

We'd like to give a special recognition to one entry from each category that we feel stood out for their powerful story, bravery and inspiration.

+ Freya Hannan-Mills

in 2011 Mummy got the devastating news that nana had been diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy PSP its part of the Parkinsons family- that same year my daddy also died so the three of us, nana mummy and me lived together and mummy looked after nana. Nana was a dancer and she loved to see me dancing so this summer I danced everywhere and made little films which I showed to Nana. I wrote to Neil Claxton from the band Mint Royale who made this music and EMI for permission which I got and I put all the clips together to make this. Sadly Nana died a couple of weeks ago so I have dedicated my film to her and everyone who is affected by Parkinsons and PSP

The judges say... We loved ‘Falling Upwards’ with its poignant story behind Freya’s dance and overcoming the emotional challenges she faced at a very young age. It was inspiring to see her channel her experiences into a creative dance film dedicated to her Nana. The film captures Freya’s joyous smile and clear love of moving.

+ Dance for Parkinson's

Entered by Amelia Hall. Our dance class is for people to let lose and have fun. Our amazing dance teacher creates unique dance routines using all the hints and tips learnt from the research in the lab (and her own fabulous experience in this area) and applies them to a range of styles that we can all have a go at. Whether its Bollywood or Ballroom, we all have sore cheeks from laughing our way through the routines each week. There is a fun and relaxed atmosphere that people with Parkinson's, their partners, family and friends can all enjoy.

The judges say... This Dance for Parkinson’s group was another wonderful example of how dance can bring joy into the lives of people with Parkinson’s, and their partners, family and friends. The various accounts by the class participants beautifully demonstrate how dance allows them to forget the difficulties they might face elsewhere in life and how they can be themselves in that space.

+ Dianne Sharp

Freddy and I have been married for 48 years and always danced. He was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2005. Sometimes he couldn,t walk but when "our" songs were played he could dance. It was a great joy to both of us. This was a video taken by friends while we were on holiday in Egypt in 2014.

Very sadly Freddy died of a heart attack on 14 November, a week after Leonard Cohen, one of his heros.

So I've lost my dancing partner.

The judges say... Dianne Sharp’s film of herself and her husband Freddy dancing together was a very moving and emotional memoir of the couple’s love for each other, shown through dancing. We appreciated how brave and inspiring it was of Dianne to submit this piece, which powerfully depicts the couple’s connection through dance.

The shortlist

Our winners were chosen from a shortlist of 3 entries in each category. Choosing between the 67 inspiring entries was not an easy task and each entry was special in its own way. Thank you to Omari ‘Motion’ Carter from The Motion Dance Collective and Jenna Lee from Jenna Lee Productions who supported us with the shortlisting.

Solo entries

+ Ayla Clare

Quite simply Ayla just loves to dance. This was a piece she improvised earlier this year and shows maybe more passion than technique. It oozes goose bumps. Ayla's grandma has advanced dementia but every month Ayla dances for and with the residents of the care home. They don't always remember her but they love every second of that moment in time.

+ Valerie's Dance

Entered by Geoff Brokate. Valerie is a regular participant in our weekly dance class for people with Parkinson’s which has been running for 3 years in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

The film captures Valerie’s natural movements and their connection to nature, from the shake of a hand and the rustle of a leaf, to the warmth of the sun and the memory of her children playing in the park.

The fiddle plays in response to Valerie’s dance which is set under the branches of a tree in her local park. It follows a woman struggling with the grief and loss one faces in daily life when living with a condition such as Parkinson’s combined with the hope and courage needed to remain strong and alive.

"It feels like I am being robbed every day and stripped of my identity” is a quote taken from one of my local branch members when asked what it is like having Parkinson’s.

+ Ellie Watkinson

My contemporary dance teacher and I created this piece the day before a competition I was attending and it turned out to be my favourite piece I have danced to. This is a dark mature piece about a drug addict. I love the movement and the story and emotion behind the movement.

Parkinson's group entries

+ Scottish Ballet

We asked our class how dancing made them feel, and lots of people came back with 'I Feel Good... danananananana, I knew that I would' so we decided to use James Brown as our inspiration.

The video features class members, volunteers and staff from our 2 weekly classes, inpsired by the journey that dancing takes us on - from feeling disconnected from our bodies and ourselves, to feeling liberated, playful, uplifted and connected.

Choreography is a joint effort from all class participants!

+ Strictly Parkinson's

This entry is from Strictly Parkinson's, a dance group who meet once a week in Builth Wells in rural mid Wales. The group is made up of people living with Parkinson's. We are members of the South Powys branch of Parkinson's UK (Wales). This film represents some of what we do and shares key words on how dance makes us feel. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it.

+ National Dance Company Wales + ENB

National Dance Company Wales’ Dance for Parkinson’s project forms the backbone of the company’s renewed commitment to participation in dance to support health and well-being for those most in need.

Created in partnership with English National Ballet (ENB), NDCWales’ Dance for Parkinson’s project invites people with Parkinson’s and their carers/ family to take part in a termly dance course, delivered at the professional dance studio at NDCWales’ Dance House in Cardiff Bay. Participants engage in weekly sessions which incorporate live music, dance, rhythm and voice.

Group entries

+ Charlotte & Jessica

This is Charlotte Douglas & Jessica Templeton performing their contemporary number to Skipping Stones. Charlotte's grandfather has got Parkinsons Disease and she is very aware of the impact it has on the whole family. This cause is close to our hearts and therefore that is why the girls wanted to perform together, putting their feelings and expressions into action through dance.

They have enjoyed working together. The whole experience has been lots of fun and we hope you enjoy their routine.

+ Ananya Chatterjee - Bharatanatyam

Hi! I am Ananya, founder and artistic director of KALAKUNJ, a community-based performing arts group based in Reading, and a practitioner of Bharatanatyam for the last 30 years. Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest Indian classical dance forms and originated in the temples of South India.

The name 'Bharatanatyam' is derived from three basic concepts of Bhava (expression of emotions), Raga (melody) and Tala (rhythmic beats). It is a complete form of dance and one of the most subtle, sophisticated and graceful styles of dance in the world. Its practice helps to imbibe discipline, co-ordination of body movements, rhythmic sense and inner strength.

It is relevant because it helps to put us back in touch with our roots. The very essence of the dance style is to heal and to harmonize the mind, the soul and the body, and to reaffirm the existence of beauty and truth. Our dance presentation is called THILLANA, which incorporates a number of alluringly sculpturusque postures and varied patterns of intricate movements based on a set rhythm or TALA.

I was inspired by my husband to create this video who specialises in movement disorders to help raise awareness about Parkinsons.

+ A Rare Glimpse

We decided to make a short film celebrating the spontaneous pleasure of cross-generational creative doing in different creative disciplines Here, older dancers Jane Turner and Tim Taylor, who first met each other at college 35 years ago, enjoy sharing in improvised dance as Levana completes another bold painting. The music is provided by respected peer Mike Willox and filmed by partner Chris Frazer Smith.

The judges

The competition judges are leading and influential experts in the dance industry. They have extensive experience and a broad understanding of diverse dance forms. We'd like to thank them for providing their time, support and expertise. Find out more about our judges below. 

 
 
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Ryan Jenkins

Ryan is Creative Director, lead choreographer and president of iD-Dance and a scout for the UK’s biggest TV show Britain’s Got Talent.

A finalist on So You Think You Can Dance series two, Ryan works internationally on creative projects and has collaborated with some of the world’s leading creatives such as Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Arlene Philips, Matthew Bourne, Adam Garcia, Nigel Lythgoe and Michael Flatley, to name a few.

Ryan’s choreography credits include Puma Clothing, Red Bull Racing and the TV show Dance Mums. His theatre credits include Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Wicked, Grease, the Musical, Cabaret and Kismet.

 
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Lauren Cuthbertson

Lauren is a principal of The Royal Ballet. She was promoted to a soloist in 2003, first soloist in 2006 and principal in 2008, becoming the youngest female principal in the company.

Her roles with the company have included Juliet, Manon, Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Giselle and Odette/Odile (Swan Lake). Christopher Wheeldon created the title role of his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with Cuthbertson in mind, describing her "unique ability to make her dramatic persona on stage natural, honest, fresh and to the point". Cuthbertson’s other role creations include Hermione (Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale) and in Wayne McGregor’s Tetractys.

In 2007 Cuthbertson won an Arts and Culture Women of the Future Award. Devoted to inspiring the next generation of dancers, she is an active patron of the National Youth Ballet and the London Children’s Ballet.

 
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Mechanikool

Mechanikool was a semi-finalist on the TV show Got to Dance in 2013, making a big impact by introducing the style of animation in its traditional form to a large UK audience.

Mechanikool has specialised in popping and animation styles for two decades and has had the opportunity to learn under the guidance of popping legends like Pop N Taco, Popin Pete and members of the Electric Boogaloos, all of whom worked closely with Michael Jackson for a number of years.

Mechanikool was UK Popping Champion twice in 2006 and 2011. He now travels all over the UK and Europe teaching and sharing his knowledge and philosophy on dance, and recognises the power of dance as a tool for building confidence in individuals.

 
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Kate Hartley

Kate is an Engagement Producer and specialist Dance for Parkinson's artist at  English National Ballet (ENB). 

Trained professionally at English National Ballet School, Kate performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall before focusing on teaching dance in a variety of styles and contexts at the Royal Academy of Dance, English National Ballet and English National Ballet School.

Her current role is centred on talent development and delivering English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s in Oxford, teaching English National Ballet’s youth dance company and Choreospace for emerging artists.

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Dance and Parkinson's

Many people with Parkinson's find that dance helps with their movement symptoms and can improve walking and balance.

Groundbreaking English National Ballet research has shown how dance can have a positive effect on wellbeing, physical movement and social integration for people with Parkinson's.

Parkinson's dance groups and classes take place across the UK. Some are run by Parkinson's UK local groups and others by our partner organisations, including English National Ballet, BalletBoyz and Dance for Parkinson's Network.

Learn more

English National Ballet and University of Roehampton: Harnessing the power of dance to improve health and wellbeing

University of Hertfordshire: Dance For Parkinson's research

To find out about other research into dance and Parkinson's, email us at dance@parkinsons.org.uk

 
In class, people see you as the person you are, not the person with Parkinson’s.
— Carroll Forth, Dance for Parkinson’s participant

Our partners

Thanks to our partners for offering valuable support and for promoting a shared ethos of connecting people through dance. Through a broad range of activities throughout the UK and abroad, our partners support Parkinson's UK by helping promote dance's positive impact on emotional and physical wellbeing. Find out more about our partners.