The world of dance is not just about performing and teaching. There's another side -- scholarship and research -- in which Kansas University dance professor Janet Hamburg is immersed.
Hamburg is a leader in the field of movement studies. She is a certified Laban movement analyst and registered movement therapist. She serves as a movement consultant to athletes, dancers, musicians and children.
But most recently, her research has focused on movement problems with older adults and movement therapy for those with Parkinson's Disease.
"My mother had a stroke in 1986 and I really became interested in keeping older adults living independently," Hamburg said. "My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and I created movement sequences for her."
Her efforts to help her mother sparked an interest in movement studies and led to Hamburg taking a sabbatical in the spring of 1999 to research innovative somatotherapeutic approaches for people with Parkinson's Disease.
One of the results is Motivating Moves, a program created by Hamburg especially for older adults but appropriate for any age. The program consists of 14 movement sequences that emphasize spatial awareness, stability, flexibility, sense of balance, postural alignment and dynamic movement range.
In a pilot study of the program conducted by Kansas University Medical Center's Center on Aging, all participants improved their functional reach, a predictor of greater fall risk among older adults. The study's participants ranged in age from 63 to 96.
Hamburg has collaborated with Robert Abramson, director of the Dalcroze School in New York City and a guest teacher at Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, to compose and perform the music for a videotape of her Motivating Moves program.
"I hope the video will be available by November," Hamburg said. " " It's something that's for everyone. It's about how to feel ready and connected for your life. It's a body-mind warm-up."
Parkinson's Disease Foundation News published an article written by Hamburg about her research in its spring 2000 issue. She presented her Motivating Moves for Older Adults program at the 1999 Motus Humanus Roundtable on Healing and Wholeness through Movement in July 1999 in Boulder, Colo., and last July at the Dancing in the Millennium Conference in Washington, D.C.
In June, she was one of two featured faculty at the Motus Humanus Advanced Training Seminar at the University of Utah. Additionally, "Developing a Movement Program with Music for Older Adults," a research article based on the Motivating Moves program, was published in the October 1999 Journal of Aging and Physical Activity by Human Kinetics.
But while her work has taken her out of town, Hamburg is also involved in teaching movement programs in Lawrence. For the past two years she has been teaching movement sessions at Parkinson's Disease support group meetings in Lawrence and Topeka, and has served as a co-coordinator of the Douglas County Parkinson's Disease Support Group.
Last spring, she taught Motivating Moves for Older Adults at the Lawrence Senior Center as part of a special topics course offered to KU students.
"I wanted to give the students practical experience," she said. "" We started with 21 older adults, ages 65 to 82, and finished with 16. They asked for it to continue (after the course had officially ended) so two students in the class will begin teaching it this fall."
The course at the Lawrence Senior Center helped reinforce the idea that a dance career can reach beyond the stage.
"We also educate students so they can go out into the world and help people in a variety of ways," Hamburg said. "The world of dance is not just performing and teaching. Movement is universal. It's important for students to know that if they love dance and movement they can find a way to support themselves doing what they love."