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NOBA & Dance For Parkinson's Program to Present Special Classes And Choreography Workshops

Classes are open to people with Parkinson's or other similar mobility challenges, as well as family members, caregivers, and friends.

NOBA & Dance For Parkinson's Program to Present Special Classes And Choreography Workshops

The New Orleans Ballet Association has announced an exciting pair of Dance for Parkinson's classes on June 13 & 15, led by visiting master artist John Heginbotham, founding teacher of the internationally renowned Dance for PD program and training curriculum.

These special classes are part of the ongoing Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust Dance for Parkinson's Program, now entering its fifth year of free, ongoing creative dance and movement classes set to live musical accompaniment. Classes are open to people with Parkinson's or other similar mobility challenges, as well as family members, caregivers, and friends. Over the past four years, since its inception in 2017, the program has reached a total attendance of over 5,000 people through free, specialized, ongoing weekly classes and special outreach activities that empower people with Parkinson's to creatively explore movement and live music, all in a safe, welcoming, and fun environment. The program has continued to blossom and gain recognition locally, statewide, and nationally by Parkinson's medical professionals, support groups, and organizations, and reaches community members of all ages through sample classes and special presentations at local support groups as well as during special advocacy events and conferences.

"Our mission is to help other tax-exempt organizations with their mission of helping others. Dance for Parkinson's classes are designed specifically to help individuals that suffer from Parkinson's disease, and we hope that this helps give these individuals a better quality of life" said trustees of the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust Vincent Giardina and Lisa Romano.

Sessions are open to the public and interested dance and health professionals are encouraged to participate as well. No dance experience is necessary, and there is no cost to attend. Participants in the June 13 or 15 classes will also have the unique opportunity to attend physically integrated choreography workshops on June 16 and 17 with NOBA Summer Intensive Program youth participants and be featured in a special culminating event at Tulane's McWilliams Hall the evening of June 17.

In addition, NOBA offers ongoing tuition-free dance, wellness, and arts healing classes for children and adults ages 4-80+, as well as a Main Stage Series of world-class dance performances. For more information about NOBA programming, class schedules, and performances, please visit or call 504.522.0996. Find NOBA on Facebook and follow @nobadance on Instagram.


Dance for Parkinson's Classes with John Heginbotham:

Monday, June 13, 10:30-11:45am, at Mike Miley Gym (6716 W Metairie Ave., Metairie, LA 70003)

Wednesday, June 15, 10:30-11:45am, at NOJCC (5342 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115)

Registration for new participants will be available onsite beginning 15 minutes prior to each session. Classes will also be assisted by NOBA instructors Kelly Haber and April Dayok, who are currently pursuing their certification in Dance for PD which represents the highest level of training available in the curriculum.

Information about ongoing Monday and Wednesday in-person Dance for Parkinson's classes, as well as its virtual class series can be found on NOBA's website at Classes are ongoing on a drop-in basis, and new participants may join at any time.

NOBA Dance for Parkinson's classes and activities are sponsored by the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. Metairie and virtual evening classes are also supported by a community grant from the Parkinson's Foundation.


Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed PD each year. More than 10 million people worldwide are living with PD - symptoms generally develop slowly over years and vary from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease and can include tremor, slowness of movement, limb rigidity, and gait and balance problems.

The Dance for PD program originated at the Mark Morris Dance Center in 2001, and now touches thousands of lives through its network of affiliates in more than 300 communities in 30 countries around the world. Professional teaching artists integrate movement from modern, ballet, tap, folk and social dancing, and choreographic repertory to engage participants' minds and bodies and create an enjoyable, social environment for artistic exploration. Dance for PD and its affiliate classes allow people with Parkinson's to experience the joys and benefits of dance while creatively addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skill, depression, and physical confidence.

Because Dance for PD focuses on the aesthetic movement of dance rather than acting as therapy, participants in classes are encouraged to approach movement like dancers rather than as patients. Dance for PD classes provide a social environment for participants to interact with other community members, and to share a positive, stimulating activity together with their partners. Participants report that the classes boost their confidence levels, transform their attitudes about living with a chronic illness and help them manage some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease. Consistent interaction within the close-knit community of the dance class helps to combat social isolation and depression while empowering participants with a sense of physical possibility and artistic achievement. Richard Baudry, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Orthopedic Certified Specialist at the Baudry Physical Therapy Center in Metairie, LA states "Dance for Parkinson's provides great movement combinations that improve coordination and balance. Dancing increases blood circulation and stimulates the brain. Then add live music and supportive friendships, and you have the perfect recipe for feeling well."

ABOUT John Heginbotham

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, John Heginbotham is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, performer, and teacher. Heginbotham graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and was awarded the Martha Hill Prize for Sustained Achievement in Dance. He was a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) from 1998 - 2012. During his time with MMDG, he toured across the United States and abroad alongside artists including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, The Bad Plus, and Zakir Hussain, and performed with opera companies including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and the English National Opera.

Heginbotham received a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, and in June 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Jacob's Pillow Dance Award in recognition of his unique choreographic vision and promise. He is currently a Research Fellow at the National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron (NCCAkron), was awarded a 2017/18 New York City Center Choreography Fellowship, was a 2016 Fellow at NYU's Center for Ballet and the Arts and is a two-time recipient of the Jerome Robbins Foundation New Essential Works (NEW) Fellowship (2010, 2012).

Heginbotham and his company, Dance Heginbotham, have been invited to participate in creative residencies at BAM Fisher, The Banff Centre, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn College, CUNY Kingsborough, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, LMCC's Extended Life program on Governor's Island, The Watermill Center, and White Oak. In addition to his work with Dance Heginbotham, he is active as a freelance choreographer, and his work has been featured in music videos, operas, musicals, and more.

As a teacher, Heginbotham offers dance master classes in the United States and abroad. He has taught at institutions including Princeton University, Barnard College, George Mason University, Laban Centre in London, School of Visual Arts, University of California, Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Washington. Heginbotham is the Director of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble and is a founding teacher of Dance for PD, an ongoing collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.

"My impression is that many people with Parkinson's feel like they are outside of the human experience. And dance is a huge part of the human experience. And so, to come in and dance, you're human again." -John Heginbotham


NOBA is the Central Gulf region's premier presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance. NOBA's dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of internationally acclaimed companies and artists. Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops, and lectures to more than 33,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages. In addition, NOBA's nationally recognized, award-winning education programs provide accessible, inclusive, quality arts programs with over 5,500 tuition-free dance classes and workshops annually at up to 20 sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area.

"NOBA strives to present top-notch, diverse offerings for the communities which we serve," said NOBA Board Chair Dottie Belletto, adding that "in addition to presenting this blockbuster season, it is with great pride that we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the NORD/NOBA Center for Dance. Throughout our history, NOBA has been at the vanguard nationally for creating partnerships that strive to meet the needs of our community through innovative programs that address challenges that our citizens face. Our groundbreaking public-private partnership with NORD established a path in 1992 for a child to enter a neighborhood center and receive the training necessary to pursue a career in dance - all completely tuition-free."

These programs are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans; and by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council.

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