While demonstrating a dance move, Marianne Talbot of Arlington might say, "Move this arm to that high corner of the room." She deliberately won't say right or left arm. That concept is tougher for some of her students, all of whom have neurological disabilities from brain injury or disease.
About 10 years ago, Talbot, a former professional dancer with a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, started the free therapeutic dance/movement classes. Her aim: to teach new types of movement to neurologically disabled individuals and boost their self-esteem. Classes are sponsored by the National Rehabilitation & Rediscovery Foundation (NRRF), a nonprofit advocacy group. Talbot is the group's executive director.
In a typical dance class, said Talbot, there is usually "a right and wrong way to do something. In this class, what you do is the right way." Some students, she said, even dance from wheelchairs.
Lisa Walker, 33 and a student of Talbot's for three months, works especially hard with her left side, walking -- and sometimes dancing -- with a cane. The Loudoun County woman cannot use her left arm and limps on her left leg since she suffered a brain aneurysm eight years ago. Walker's favorite part about class: "The fun we have, and there's so much hope in the room. Everyone is hoping to get better, and trying." She describes a typical routine as everyone "moving across the floor trying to move their bodies fully."
Every week Talbot teaches four classes of no more than 10 students per class. Open to all ability levels, classes are for Virginia and Maryland residents aged 16 and over. A family member or friend is welcome to attend the 90-minute classes, which have continuous registration.
Since 1997, Talbot has also led a dance company of more advanced students with the same type of disabilities called "Rhythms of Hope."
To register or learn more about the classes, call 703-522-6964.
-- Samantha Ganey