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Dancing with Parkinson's

In episode 04, Vivian and Marcie talk with Seattle dancer and teacher Chris Daigre about what happened when he received a life-changing Parkinson's Disease diagnosis, and how he uses dance to help others with the disease. Plus, Seattle arts educator Shawn Roberts discusses Seattle Theatre Group's ongoing program Dance for PD (Parkinson's Disease). You may have heard the term "healing arts" used to describe medicine and other traditional health care practices. But researchers know that art itself - dance, music, visual arts, and theater - have healing powers themselves.

"Getting Parkinson's made my vision of the world, and people in general, a little broader. It made me realize there are a lot of people who may not be artists, but they have stories to tell." --Chris Daigre

Chris Daigre teaching via Zoom & Shawn Roberts teaching a Dance for PD class, photo by Chris Nelson


Chris Daigre is a Seattle native who played guard on Roosevelt High School's 1982 championship basketball team and grew up with dance at his family's renowned Ewajo Dance Workshop. As a shy kid in his mother's dance studio, Chris was fascinated by the teaching artists and professional dancers passing through. "They were some of the most engaging people I had ever met; very funny, but also wise and full of vitality, mental dedication, and discipline. To be in the midst of them, to see how they went about their work, creating dances and working together, was transformational for me. That was the spark.”

That spark ignited a teaching career that has continued for more than 25 years. Chris has contributed choreography to productions of the 5th Ave Musical Theater, The Village Theatre, Broadway Bound Children's Theater, Taproot Theater, and others. He has collaborated with the Ladies' Musical Club to bring dance to PE classes in elementary schools and developed community dance programs in association with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Theatre Group.

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Shawn Roberts has a background in dance and theater, beginning her studies of dance with Stanley Knaub, SuzAnneDuckworth, and Dale Merrill, and her studies of theater at Freehold Theatre. Ms. Roberts is the founding School and Education Director of Spectrum Dance Theater (Artistic Director, Donald Byrd), where she directed, taught, and produced student performances for more than 18 years. She is applauded for her profound work in transforming Spectrum’s community dance classes into a successful curriculum-based school for beginning through pre-professional dancers. In 2008, Ms. Roberts completed the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD® teacher training and has been teaching classes and managing the STG program since 2009. In 2015, she completed the Dance for PD® certification, making her the first certified Dance for PD® teaching artist in the world outside of the founding teachers. Shawn also directs STG’s annual Ailey Camp.

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