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Board Spotlight on Elizabeth Keller

Monday June 18, 2018

Photo by Mike Reid; ©George Balanchine Trust

A professional dancer, teacher, and active resident of Boise, Elizabeth Keller is Northwest Parkinson’s newest board member. In this Spotlight, Liz shares about her Dance for Parkinson’s classes, and her excitement for the future—including Boise Parkinson’s Day on June 23!

 

BJC: Bette Jane Camp

LK: Liz Keller

 

 

How did you get involved with Northwest Parkinson’s?

It’s just been mind-blowing from the start: something as simple as sharing what I love, teaching what I know, to help others.

In 2014, I was dancing with Trey McIntyre Project (TMP). Our engagement work with TMP was really special. Everywhere we toured, we engaged with that community several days before we performed, really getting to know everybody.

Our Engagement Manager and I connected with [dancer] David Leventhal, who put us in contact with Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. [Soon] I got the go-ahead to teach Dance for Parkinson’s classes on the road. I was able to share my love for this art form, and really help people with Parkinson’s.

When TMP ended, I wondered if there was a class in Boise. But there wasn’t a movement therapy class in Idaho at all! In 2014, Northwest Parkinson’s put on the first teacher training class in Boise. Myself and other dancers in the community were part of that class.

With Northwest Parkinson’s and TMP, I started the first Dance for Parkinson’s class in Idaho in fall of 2014. [Since then,] I’ve been able to turn it into my own nonprofit, with Northwest Parkinson’s sustaining the program—a huge support.

 

How has your relationship with dance, and teaching, been shaped by Dance for Parkinson’s?

I’ve been a professional dancer for seventeen years, and never been so fulfilled as on Mondays, during Dance for Parkinson’s classes.

The [students] have changed my life in many beautiful ways. We have such a special group and support system—including for me. It sounds like I just help the students, but I feel so grateful to them. I’m getting emotional just talking about it!

And [students] have a new appreciation for the art form. Many of them go to the ballet, and we’ll discuss or do stuff in class related to what they’ve seen. So it’s been cool to watch their passion for dance grow. They appreciate all that goes into it on a different level. 

 

It sounds pretty organic, too—one thing has lead to another. Is that how you’ve become a Northwest Parkinson’s board member?

Yes, in trying to be an advocate for people with Parkinson’s—plus, every time that Melissa [Tribelhorn, Executive Director] comes by our classes, she has been impressed with the [attendance] and our uniqueness. It’s not just for people with Parkinson’s, but family and friends, too. Carepartners may not be appreciated as often as they should, and [Dance for Parkinson’s allows us] all to do something together. It’s a time to have fun and relax—you can dance, too.

When Melissa and I get together, we start going into these big dreams. If we could just split ourselves into 35 different people we’d be moving mountains.

[Joining the board] stems from the success of Dance for Parkinson’s, my involvement in the community, and that I am so inspired by Northwest Parkinson’s. I [recently] spoke with the staff, and in a few hours we all just fed off each other, coming up with so many ideas and goals. I’m excited to have a bigger voice and impact for my Parkinson’s community here.

My biggest dream is to get a movement class in most of Idaho. I wish I could spend time in all the places that don’t have what we have in Boise.

Photo by Greg Mauger

This is the refrain: more outreach to underserved areas. It’s motivating, this common goal!

Yes! I just wish there were more hours in the day (laughs).

 

I feel you. And I’m glad Boise will come together next weekend. What are you looking forward to about Boise Parkinson’s Day?

I’m really looking forward to the HOPE conference, listening to Dr. Asher speak, and seeing all the people who turn out for the walk. Team Dance for Parkinson’s will be there, [alongside] Rock Steady Boxing. The first Boise walk was so exciting: seeing all the different groups, connecting. I’m just glad that there is a Boise Parkinson’s Day. It’s super cool.

 

It’s also marvelous to learn about the connection between your art and the Parkinson’s community. Do you have a favorite performance to share?

When I was with the Miami City Ballet, we toured in New York, performing at City Center across from Carnegie Hall. It was pretty special: packed houses, six shows, mid-ballet standing ovations. It was a high—something that I’ll always remember. Touring is a lot, but there’s nothing like it when the curtain goes up.

[Dance] is a dying art form, an oral storytelling. It’s not just that I want to pass it on—I have to. And it’s really fun to share! From gestures, to where movements come from, like story ballet.

It’s so important to share everything that I was taught—with my ballet students, and with my Dance for Parkinson’s students, too.

-

Learn more about Dance for Parkinson's Idaho!

 

Register for Boise Parkinson's Day!

Bette Jane Camp
NWPF Blogger

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