"Verbal Auditory Cueing of Improvisational Dance:  A Proposed Method for Training Agency in Parkinson's Disease" 

Glenna Batson, Christina E. Hugenschmidt, Christina T. Soriano 

Frontiers in Neuroscience, February 2016

Dance is a non-pharmacological intervention that helps maintain functional independence and quality of life in people with Parkinson's disease (PPD). Results from controlled studies on group-delivered dance for people with mild-to-moderate stage Parkinson's have shown statistically and clinically significant improvements in gait, balance, and psychosocial factors. Tested interventions include non-partnered dance forms (ballet and modern dance) and partnered (tango). In all of these dance forms, specific movement patterns initially are learned through repetition and performed in time-to-music. Once the basic steps are mastered, students may be encouraged to improvise on the learned steps as they perform them in rhythm with the music. Here, we summarize a method of teaching improvisational dance that advances previous reported benefits of dance for people with Parkinson's disease (PD). The method relies primarily on improvisational verbal auditory cueing with less emphasis on directed movement instruction. This method builds on the idea that daily living requires flexible, adaptive responses to real-life challenges. In PD, movement disorders not only limit mobility but also impair spontaneity of thought and action. Dance improvisation demands open and immediate interpretation of verbally delivered movement cues, potentially fostering the formation of spontaneous movement strategies. Here, we present an introduction to a proposed method, detailing its methodological specifics, and pointing to future directions. The viewpoint advances an embodied cognitive approach that has eco-validity in helping PPD meet the changing demands of daily living.  

Read More:  http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fneur.2016.00015/full

"Effects of Improvisational Dance on Balance in Parkinson's Disease:  A Two-Phase fMRI Case Study" 

Glenna Batson, Sara James Migliarese, Christina Soriano, Jonathan H. Burdette, Paul J. Laurienti

Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, September 2014

Aims: This two-phase pilot examined the effects of group-delivered improvisational dance on balance in people with Parkinson's disease. Subsequently, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was examined in one individual for changes in whole-brain functional network connectivity. Methods: In Phase I, seven community-dwelling adults (mean age 67) with middle stage Parkinson's disease completed a 7-week improvisation dance series. In Phase II, one participant from the pilot group underwent brain scanning following a 5-day trial of dance. Results: Group pretest-posttest balance comparisons from Phase I were significant on the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale (p = 0.017). Posttest scans in Phase II exhibited significantly increased network connectivity between the basal ganglia and premotor cortices. Conclusions: Improvisational dance resulted in functional gains in balance for people with Parkinson's disease and merits further exploration. For one participant, functional improvements appeared to correlate with emergence of higher order neural functioning.

Read More: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/02703181.2014.927946

Documentary Film:  People with Parkinson's Disease Coming Together

Center for Design Innovation

This documentary film follows a 2012 collaborative study investigating the effects of improvisational dance methods on people with Parkinson's Disease. A team of physical therapists, scientists, dancers, animators, and people living with PD met in Winston-Salem, NC for seven weeks at a local dance studio. The project combined an improvisational dance curriculum with techniques for high-speed, 3D motion capture, visualization, and analysis. The results suggest that improvisation helps patients develop self-generating strategies for improved independence and quality of life.

"Dance-making for adults with Parkinson's Disease:  one teacher's process of constructing a modern dance class"

Christina Soriano, Glenna Batson

Research in Dance Education (RIDE), September 2011

Within the last decade, research has supported the use of dance for people with Parkinson disease to improve health and wellbeing. While the majority of study findings have been positive for a variety of psychophysical outcomes (gait, mobility, and balance confidence, for example,), little has been reported in regard to the process of selecting class content. This paper describes one teacher's process of action research in developing a program in modern dance for a small group of adults with Parkinson disease and their spouses. The program was generated as collaborative pilot research to identify variables within modern dance that could be more rigorously examined and applied in future studies. Here the dance teacher describes her rationale and outlines the components of the class structure as a means of stimulating dialogue on a designing community-based dance curriculum for this population. Generating such dialogue will contribute to the developing body of literature in dance curriculum research. 

Read More: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14647893.2011.614334?journalCode=crid20#.Vafy6sya0s

Christina has also spoken on the topic of dance and Parkinson's at various conferences. Namely, she served as a guest presenter in 2010 at the Davis Phinney Foundation in Charlotte, NC and as a panelist in 2013 to the World Parkinson Congress on the subject of "Creativity and Parkinson's Disease." In February 2014, Christina was a featured speaker at the Arts in Medicine Summit at UNC Asheville.

In May 2015, Christina traveled to London for a teaching development workshop with other Wake Forest professors. She also taught a workshop with arts practitioners who work in older adult communities at The Point in Eastleigh, just south of London. In August 2015, she participated in the LEAD Conference, held in Washington DC.