On February 21, the first-ever ballet inspired by Parkinson's disease opened at the†Byham Theater in Pittsburgh. According to media reports and the audience experience of one of our staff members, "Left Leg, Right Brain," performed by†Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, was a creative and moving take on the life of Frank Ferraro, a Pittsburgh artist who lives with Parkinson's disease.
Founding director of the company Maria Caruso expressed different stages of the disease through her choreography, tracking movement from fluid to halting.†Nicole Kelleners, an advancement officer here at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, had the opportunity to attend the performance on opening night.
"[Frank Ferraro] created powerful video clips of himself as a symptomatic Parkinsonís patient, which were shown throughout the ballet. He is a beautiful soul and a local hero," says Nicole.†
Based on coverage in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nicole wasn't the only audience member who was moved. The article shows how engaged at least one reporter was in connecting the moves on stage to what life is like with Parkinson's disease:
Early sections featured an ensemble in pointe shoes and short vibrantly colored dresses. Movement was athletic and hurried (a nod to Mr. Ferraro's active lifestyle pre-Parkinson's?) [...] Choreography grew more grounded and lyrical as the performance progressed. Sometimes dancers would let limbs go limp or step and drag a leg behind, choreographic manifestations of Parkinson's impacts on Mr. Ferraro's physical state. Another section included lots of partnering where dancers tossed, caught and lifted one another. (A reference to the support -- literal and figurative -- that connections with others can provide, perhaps?)
Besides catching an inspiring performance, Nicole also had the chance to meet up with other PD organizations while she was in town. "It was wonderful to visit Pittsburgh which included a stopover with the Parkinson Foundation of Western PA. There is a real buzz and interest from the Parkinsonís community there!