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New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) Kicks Off a New Program ‘Metairie Dance for Parkinson’s’ with a Screening of the Award-Winning Documentary, ‘Capturing Grace’  

NEW ORLEANS, LA (Aug. 27, 2019) – The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA), in partnership with the Jefferson Parish Department of Parks and Recreation (JPRD), announces its new Metairie Dance for Parkinson’s Program, including a very special kick off and film screening of the award-winning documentary by director Dave Iverson, “Capturing Grace,” light refreshments, and a brief Dance for Parkinson’s sample class on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Room 3 at Pontiff Playground, located at 1521 Palm St. The event is open to the public — there is no cost to attend, and pre-registration is not required. Weekly free Metairie Dance for Parkinson’s classes will continue on Monday mornings from 10:30-11:45 a.m. from Sept. 16, 2019 through May 18, 2020 (no classes: Dec. 23, 30; Jan. 20; Feb. 24) at Pontiff. For more information about the kickoff event or free weekly classes, please contact Millette White-Lin at or 504-522-0996 ext. 213.

NOBA’s Metairie Dance for Parkinson’s Program is supported by a community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation, with additional support from the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, through a community health partnership between NOBA and the JPRD, modeled after the Dance for PD® program developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, whose network of affiliates now spans over 250 communities in 25 countries around the world.


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 100 communities in 20 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.


It seems like two separate realms. One is occupied by acclaimed dancers from Brooklyn’s world-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group, the other by people with Parkinson’s disease. CAPTURING GRACE is about what happens when those two worlds intersect. Filmed over the course of a year, Dave Iverson's remarkable documentary reveals the hopes, fears and triumphs of this newly forged community as they work together to create a unique, life-changing performance. It’s a story filled with compelling moments and enduring characters who demonstrate the transformative power of art and the strength of the human spirit … and in so doing rediscover the meaning of grace.

“Dave Iverson is a masterful storyteller ... Capturing Grace is a poignant reflection on the strength and resilience of the human spirit.” -Michael J. Fox



Since its inception in October 2017, and thanks to generous sponsorship from the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, NOBA’s Dance for Parkinson’s Program at the New Orleans JCC has reached a total attendance of over 1,000 through specialized, ongoing weekly classes that empower people with Parkinson’s disease to creatively explore movement and live music, all in a safe and welcoming environment for participants and their family, friends and caregivers. These free classes are also modeled after the internationally renowned Dance for PD® program and take place each Wednesday from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at the New Orleans JCC.

 The program has continued to blossom and gain recognition locally, statewide and nationally by Parkinson’s medical professionals, support groups and advocates. In addition to the number served through weekly classes, NOBA’s Dance for Parkinson’s program has impacted over 2,000 community members through sample classes and special presentations at local Parkinson’s support groups (Touro Parkinson’s Support Group, Big Easy Fleur de Lis Parkinson’s Support Group and Parkinson’s Circle of Friends Support Group), as well as during special advocacy events and conferences.

The Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust’s lead support of Dance for Parkinson’s programming has leveraged additional support from national Parkinson’s funding sources, allowing NOBA to expand its reach and serve even more local community members affected by Parkinson’s Disease. During its one-year anniversary in October 2018, NOBA’s Dance for Parkinson’s program was honored to receive the Rosina K. Sapir Community Service Award as part of the annual Louisiana Walks for Parkinson’s event, along with an unexpected donation of seed funding from the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s to support the expansion of classes to a new Metairie location. That same month, three NOBA instructors traveled to Brooklyn, New York, to complete advanced training in Dance for PD® at the Mark Morris Dance Center, its flagship location. In March 2019, the program received national recognition with a competitive grant by the Parkinson’s Foundation which, paired with the support of the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, will enable NOBA to expand Dance for Parkinson’s classes to a second location in Metairie beginning in September 2019.

“I believe movement heals!” –Kelly Harp Haber, Lead NOBA Dance for Parkinson’s Instructor

“I dance because my soul takes wings!” – NOBA Dance for Parkinson’s participant

“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.” – Rich Baudry, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Orthopedic Certified Specialist, Baudry Physical Therapy Center, Metairie, La.

About the New Orleans Ballet Association:

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 world-class companies and artists. Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 30,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages. In addition, NOBA’s nationally recognized, award-winning education programs provide the youth of our community access to quality arts programs with over 5,500 free dance classes and workshops annually at 18 sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area. 

Rosalind Hall