Tulip Dance for Parkinson’s

Every week I look forward to attending a special contemporary dance class in Lewes for people with Parkinson’s Disease, led by dance artist and specialist teacher, Katharine Le Roux. At present we are a group of about ten people from very varied backgrounds. Dance may not be an obvious choice given that many of us experience symptoms which interfere with our movement; stiffness and tremors, but in this inclusive class, everyone is a dancer.

The Tulip Dance that we have been working on this term is in response to a request for submissions for short videos of dance on the theme of Tulips, for the 6th World Parkinson’s Congress which takes place this summer in Barcelona.

Our dance piece was initially inspired by a picture of bright tulip fields in Holland. Formal plantings reminded us of regiments and we looked at the tulips’ long history of association with royalty, going back hundreds of years to the Ottoman period, where their stylised forms graced designs on tiles, textiles and pottery and their blooms featured prominently in palace gardens.

Tulips originated in Central Asia. They were greatly loved during the Ottoman period and in what later became Turkey. The most admired tulips were those with tall, slender stems and pointed petals. During the latter half of the 16th century, when tulips were introduced to Europe, their association with royalty, opulence, beauty and Ottoman artistry took Europe by storm leading to a veritable Tulipmania and a financial crash in Holland. The most desirable tulips in Europe became tulips with rounded petals, rather than the pointed petals of the middle eastern tulips.

Katharine leads us through warm up exercises into creative work, using music and rhythm to develop a range of dance movements and choreographed pieces with real aesthetic value. Our Tulip Dance is a collaboration inspired by the tulips’ rich history and its place in our experience of spring, from bulb, to opening flower and unfurling petal. The dance culminates with the courtiers passing before the Queen of Tulips, who, in the spirit of giving, presents each with a tulip.

If chosen, our piece will become part of a larger film about Dance for Parkinson’s.

To find out more about this inspiring group and opportunities for further creative dance ideas please contact Katharine: www.katharineleroux.co.uk

Further Reading:
Beloved Bloom: the Tulip in Turkish Art by Valerie Behiery, Islamic Art historian, Ph.D. Islamicartsmagazine.com