We at Invertigo are all what you might charitably call "rabid NPR fans." I mean, I grew up on KPCC and KCRW, the musings of Scott Simon, Warren Olney, Madeline Brand and more recently Glynn Washington and Adolfo Guzman-Lopez. Morning Becomes Eclectic was the soundtrack of my teenage years.
I am not easily given to star-struck celebrity sightings. I have handled myself casually when meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger and Helen Mirren. But then there was that one time I met Patt Morrison in the hallway of a tour of KPCC's offices, during which I got tongue-tied, tripped over nothing, and almost knocked over a lamp. (Patt, if you ever read this, please give me another chance!)
So you'll understand the thrill when I received a call from Ina Jaffe about covering our Dancing Through Parkinson's program. (Nearly dropped the phone. Didn't. Victory.) This had the double-whammy of an NPR rock star and a program that I love dearly.
Dancing Through Parkinson's turns 5 years old this month. We began with one weekly class at the Electric Lodge in Venice and have since expanded to 5 locations around Los Angeles. Classes are fun, challenging in a nurturing way, musically delicious, and above all joyful. Over the course of a year, we dance with hundreds of people, who leave our classes walking a little taller, smiling a little wider and feeling a little better than when they came in. The teachers are all passionately dedicated to the program and boy, the stories I could tell you about our participants. That'll have to wait for another blog entry though.
So, Ina came to class at our flagship location in Venice. She created this beautiful story, which was heard around the nation on Weekend Edition on January 23, 2016.
While it felt wonderful on a personal level, even more importantly, the story and the NPR platform helped us to reach more people for whom dance can be a beneficial addition to their journey with Parkinson's. We have increased attendance because people heard the story and thought they'd try our classes out. One gentleman came to class for the first time and said, "I live in Chicago, and I visit my family here. I heard about your class on the radio and I was even more excited about my trip here."
So many people think that dance is not for them. They believe that in practice it belongs only to the professional few, the athletically elite. They believe as audience members that dance belongs to those who "get it" or that there's a right way to watch dance. I founded Invertigo with the belief that dance is for everybody and every body. When we perform onstage, I want everyone to feel as though they are welcomed into the space and the stories. When we dance in class, I want everyone to feel just as welcomed.
That's what our classes are about: creating connections within our own bodies, within communities, between professional dancers and dancers with Parkinson's, between new friends, between minds and bodies.
And ultimately, NPR is a great connector. They connect listeners in equal measure to global perspectives and local landscapes, and they do so with balance, empathy and variety. We are honored to be part of the NPR family now, and we are so glad that they are part of the Invertigo family.