'Dancing in the Rain' is a short documentary that reveals the impact of attending regular dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s disease. The film is told from the perspective of four Sydney-based participants in the not-for-profit program Dance For Parkinson's, and includes interviews with the founder of the program in Australia, a leading Sydney neurologist, dance teachers, family and carers, and others involved with the group. The film examines the challenges of living with the disease, and the extent to which dancing improves participants' quality of life. 'Dancing in the Rain' is the first film to document the benefits for this delightful and unexpected dance community in Australia.
The documentary was filmed across several major artistic events in Dance For Parkinson’s 2015 calendar:
– A community dance class at the Sydney Opera House taught by dancers from the New York-based Mark Morris Dance Company,
– Live performances by Australian-born cellist Richard Narroway as he accompanies dance classes during his 2015 tour,
– Participation in an international community dance project.
'Dancing in the Rain' is a local story with national and international relevance to improving the lives of people living with Parkinson’s, and reveals a successful model of building community around a disadvantaged social group.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
80,000 people in Australia are living with Parkinson’s disease. One person is diagnosed every hour of every day. Most patients are over 50 but more than 8,000 are under 40 years of age. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses over decades and often leads to social isolation and depression. It reduces a person’s capacity for expression and physical movement, and through the course of the disease has many other manifestations that are not widely understood within the general public.
Parkinson’s crosses ethnic groups, and affects both men and women. There is currently no cure and with an ageing population, the number of people affected by this disease is growing.
‘Dancing in the Rain’ tells the story of how a not-for-profit program, Dance For Parkinson’s, offers classes in which participants are empowered to explore movement and music in ways that are creative, fun and stimulating. Classes are structured around the core elements of a dance class, but tailored to the specific needs of the Parkinson’s community. Currently classes are offered in 12 locations across Australia with 3 more planned in the Sydney region for 2015.
Recent research in Australia and overseas, along with the anecdotal experience of regular participants, reveal that Dance For Parkinson’s' classes can provide physical, emotional and social benefits to those involved. These benefits, however, are not yet widely known or understood in the medical or health industries, or even within the Parkinson’s' community itself.
While people with Parkinson’s wait for a medical cure, classes and communities like these can play a role in improving the well-being of those living with the disease. It is time, now, for this film to be made, to offer an inside perspective on this joyful and creative partnership between the Parkinson’s community and the arts.
This documentary project and its filmmakers are endorsed by Dance for Parkinson's, Parkinson's Australia, and Dance for PD, but we require funding to complete the project. To that end we are seeking philanthropic support for the film, which will make a significant contribution to promoting positive social change for Australia’s Parkinson’s community.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
Our goals in making this film are:
- To help the Parkinson’s community engage with Dance for Parkinson’s, a program which is supportive, creative and fun.
- To educate people with Parkinson's, their families and carers about the physical, emotional and social benefits participants have experienced from attending regular dance classes.
- To create a tool to help Dance for Parkinson’s raise funding to run more free classes around the country, and to train more dance teachers.
- To raise awareness in the wider community about what it is like to live with Parkinson’s.
- To make a film that speaks to other disadvantaged and socially isolated groups who could benefit from similar improvements to their quality of life, including the elderly, people with mental illness, depression or other diseases.
- To increase public awareness of the transformative and therapeutic potential of dance.
- To highlight the key role of the arts in supporting the social and emotional well-being of people in Australia.
We hope to achieve these goals by making the first film that tells a local story about the benefits of the program in Australia. By featuring engaging characters, and telling an inspiring true story with high production values, the film is well-placed to secure a significant online audience, and serve as a valuable educational tool for the Parkinson’s community and the Dance for Parkinson’s program for many years to come.
The impact will be measured by how many people see the documentary and how it can support Dance for Parkinson's to reach more regions of Australia where there is a need and a desire for the program.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
Our outreach strategy will target both a broad general audience, as well as specific groups ranging from the Parkinson's community, the arts, health, and social well-being networks. We will continue to work with the film’s major supporters - Dance for Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s Australia - along with the state-based Parkinson’s organisations, and existing classes around the country, to develop a social media and communications plan to support the film’s launch and to reach the broadest possible audience, particularly over the 12 months that follow.
Included amongst those targeted are:
- Parkinson’s support groups,
- General practitioners,
- Health Scientists,
- Aged care industry groups
- Local councils
- other Parkinson’s-directed exercise and arts programs,
- the dance community.
To achieve this outcome we are developing a number of distribution channels including:
- Fundraising screenings for Dance for Parkinson’s around the country
- Film festivals
- Video On Demand or Subscription Video On Demand acquisition
- Social media campaigns
- Community and school screenings and Q&A.
In collaboration with Dance for Parkinson’s we are planning to create a check-list for people keen to establish a Dance for Parkinson’s class in their local area.
‘Dancing in the Rain’ will eventually live online to remain accessible to all.