On a quiet Wednesday afternoon, patients were spending time receiving treatments in Infusion Therapy rooms. Center Stage sponsors trained professional dancer Judith Sachs to spend time with patients with her “Joyful Movement” program.
“Would you like to try some gentle stretching along with some music?” she asks patients who are hooked up to chemo therapy or other medication. If the patient is feeling up to it and agrees, Judith carefully chooses music suitable to the activity such as Doo Wop, Motown, Classical, Folk, Big Band or world music she pulls from Spotify and her own curated playlists.
Judith then leads an experience that engages imagination, movement and resiliency. “It is more than stress management and breathing,” Judith says. “These sessions build a connection between the body and spirit. I’m looking to build a humanistic model of wellness with the patients.”
When a patient says, “I really don’t dance,” she shrugs, “Anyone can dance!” She invites patients to think like a dancer. “How could you use your feet and hips in the chair to tango with me? What do your shoulders feel like on a beautiful spring day or a cold winter evening?
“Even if the person is lying flat in the bed, we can accommodate to make it helpful and entertaining.” Judith says one patient who was prone in a hospital bed tried tap dancing. “We can actually modify what Gene Kelly does in “Singin’ in the Rain” and use that music.”
On another visit, Judith guides a woman through a series of flowing movements simulating an underwater swim or glide through a buoyant body of water. After five minutes her session ends and the patient seems more relaxed, having moved her body in a way she hadn’t imagined possible before being hooked up to an IV. Judith also plays music that matches the movement to accompany the dance.
“Well, that was refreshing!” says the patient thanking Judith. “I hadn’t thought about being able to move that way while I am confined to a hospital bed for several hours. It was a gentle, freeing and empowering experience,” says one patient.
Judith enjoys mixing it up with different dance formats. For a teen boy, she uses a rhythmic upbeat song and they simulate boxing moves. “It helps them find their strength. I want him to feel powerful. Music is an underlying layer that inspires what we do!”
Center Stage is grateful for the energy Judith brings to her programs. From Philadelphia, Judith is the founder of Anyone Can Dance®, a teacher of Dance for Parkinsons®, and a Lifetime Arts Teaching Artist. The daughter and granddaughter of physicians, she is delighted to share her joy of movement with dancers of all abilities and backgrounds.