World Parkinson Congress report by dNaga dancer Martha Friedberg


We did it! DNaga dancers performed twice at the 2016 World Parkinson Congress (WPC), September 20th to 23rd, in Portland, Oregon.

On Tuesday morning, most of us (Michelle Johnston, Martha Friedberg, Leila Massoudi, Yael Berrol, Ellie Kerwin, Sylvie Rodgers and Shosi Black) arrived in Portland together from Oakland. We dropped our luggage at our cozy Airbnb house and then went directly to the Oregon Convention Center where we met up with Claudine Naganuma, our director and choreographer, and the other Oakland dancers (Gary Turchin, Warren Brunetti, Cathy Quides Catalina Jackson-Uruena, Erin Landers). Also joining us were our Brooklyn cohorts (Carol Enseki, and Cynthia Gilbertson, Nancy Petaja) who would be performing with us and with whom we had rehearsed the previous weekend via Skype!

We were excited and ready to get going with our tech rehearsal since we had no idea what to expect. The conference room was vast and the pre-fab stage that had been set up at one end of the room was about half the size of our Danspace studio, elevated with steps on either side and edges marked only by strips of white tape. Claudine swiftly made the choreographic changes to adapt to the space and we dancers, willing and well-rehearsed, absorbed what we had to and quietly muttered the hope that no one would fall off the stage.

Later that evening at the Welcome Reception, our performance of Proteinology (really, 4 dances that smoothly transitioned one into the next) went beautifully – no (noticeable) mistakes and no one fell off! Even though most of the 2000 or so people there were busily eating, drinking and chatting, we had an attentive audience at our end of the conference room who enthusiastically expressed their appreciation. In Gary’s words, “We nailed it!”

Thursday’s Evening of Music and Dance at the nearby Eastlund Hotel was our second performance. This was a smaller venue with an audience that was there specifically to pay attention to the performers. This time, it was just us Oakland dancers and we performed Shock and Little Tomato – what a contrast! Again, we adapted to the tiny stage and gave it our all.

Of course, besides our rehearsals and performances we all attended various seminars, dance and movement classes and discussions, wandered through the 500 poster presentations, admired the quilt exhibit, tried out boxing for People with Parkinson’s (PwP), etc.

On Wednesday evening about 20 of us shared a fabulous meal at a Japanese restaurant and then went back to our Airbnb house for ice cream and rock n roll – memorable!

A heartfelt thank you from all of us dNagelers to our lovely and loyal donors. This adventure could not have happened without your support.

About Claudine

Claudine Naganuma (Choreographer/Teacher) received a liberal arts education from Dominican College, earning a BA degree in English Literature. She studied Early Childhood Education while she earned an MFA in Dance from Mills College in Choreography and Performance(1992). Claudine taught at Aurora Elementary School in the fourth/fifth grade classroom and at La Escuelita in a sixth grade classroom doing a fall semester empowerment workshop. She is currently a ballet teacher and Director of Danspace and its Dance for PD® program since 2007. Claudine served as the Artistic Director of Asian American Dance Performances for twelve years. There, she had the opportunity to curate and produce Asian Pacific Islander (API) dance makers and lead its resident dance company, Unbound Spirit. Together with San Francisco Community Arts Organizations, the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center was founded to support contemporary API work. As a choreographer, Claudine has received a Young Presenters award from Jacob’s Pillow, a Jack Loftis and Vibeke Strand Honorary Fellowship as a Djerassi Artist in Resident. She was also selected as an international exchange artist between the Hong Kong Fringe Club and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Claudine’s work was recently filmed as part of Dave Iverson’s documentary Capturing Grace. Her choreography set on the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Youth Company along with members of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group and dNaga performed at the World Parkinson Congress in September 2016. Claudine’s untiring dedication to the community is further evidenced by her GIRL project, now in its fourth year. This is a free art and empowerment workshop for middle school girls living in the San Antonio District of Oakland.

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