Reflections by Nimrod Levin
I was asked to write a little bit about what has been going on in the project from my own perspective. I admit that I try to avoid such statements, but I was encouraged to do so to help facilitate getting in touch with the other participants, to familiarize each other with our work, and hopefully – to make new collaborations possible. I don’t want to talk so much about myself and my work, but obviously there is not much escape from doing just that. Please forgive me.
About a week ago, in the last part of the second dance class in Israel, I presented to the Israeli participants the (scientific) study that I have been working on together with Dorit (Guy-Jelinek) and Tal (Shafir). One of the (PD) dancers asked me at some point what the name of our study is. We didn’t choose one, and I was a bit embarrassed for some unknown reason.
Embarrassment is a feeling that I experience relatively a lot in this project. Its occurrence has only increased since the beginning of the weekly dance classes in Israel: I meet new people; I expose myself; I dance; I fear that participants will question my intentions. I usually just smile when that happens.
In the last (third) dance class, I practiced capoeira with one of the PD dancers who is struggling to keep balance. She falls sometimes, so we all try to monitor the situation and catch her if we can. This last time I wasn’t quick enough, and she fell. It was not an easy experience for me, but she smiled when it happened, and she said she doesn’t mind it happening so much. I still feel that it is hard for me to explain exactly what happened there. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions or ideas what to do in such cases.
Going back to the rather formal side of this post, I want to tell you more about the (scientific) project I’m a part of. As I said earlier, one of my embarrassing moments was when I was asked about the name of the (scientific) project I presented. I don’t know why exactly I was embarrassed, but following that comment, Dorit and I chose the name “move-inter-action” for our study or paradigm (no capital letters because in line with the current zeitgeist we try to ignore hierarchies; please consider the possibility that I am using some irony). Together with Tal, we have designed a paradigm that includes three different parts: measurement of each participant’s motor ability, completion of questionnaires for a self-reported measurement of the psychological and motor consequences of their illness, and a move-inter-action part, which for us is the heart of our project.
The paradigm of move-inter-action is basically a 2-3 hour meeting with a PD dancer that includes three parts (in Israel, we like to say that the fundamental military doctrine is to split anything possible into three parts; is there an equivalent German explanation for this obviously universal behavior?). The first part is a 10 minutes physical warm up that all three will do together (the PD dancer being interviews, Dorit, and me). The goal of this part is to start to break the ice. The second part is a semi-structured interview that I will lead that will focus on four life periods (adulthood until the appearance of the first PD symptoms, appearance of first PD symptoms until diagnosis, diagnosis until joining the dance classes, and through the dance classes), and in different life domains (well-being, family life, social, and professional). The third and final part is a movement interview that Dorit will lead that will include an attempt to give rise to a dialogue through the body. We plan to meet with each PD dancer first in the next two months and again in the last two months of the project.
One of the goals of our project is to listen to the PD dancers and try to understand what they are taking from the classes, what do they find beneficial and what less so. To do so, I am also trying to meet with the different (younger/professional) dancers to hear about what they are trying to achieve in their classes. I hope that our findings will be put into use already within the scope of our project while still in process. Many other questions could be investigated through this paradigm, but one that Dorit, Tal and I are especially interested in is to see whether we can find any movement correlates or individual signature that corresponds to each PD dancer’s own experience and journey. Tal is helping us to adopt Laban’s movement analysis for this purpose (I highlight this specific contribution, but obviously she is helping us with many other issues).
Although we believe in our study, we don’t know at this point whether our study will yield any interesting results. Speaking for the three of us, we would be grateful for any comments and suggestions that you may have. I sincerely believe that it will only strengthen our project and I will surely be grateful for the willing to help. I did not mention many others that have spent hours (!!!) in discussing our ideas, and as I see it – this is a project that pretty much is inspired and shaped by all. Finally, I feel that our own little contribution to the larger project will have its (I think, positive) impact on the PD dancers (and others), and from where I am standing today, that’s more than enough. Feel free to write. Getting a message that relates to this project always makes me smile.
All the best,