In a room filled with books, punctuated by a Philippine flag, choreographer Novy Bereber dons a gold vest and greets participants on his screen. From his home in Sydney, Australia, he reaches out to a largely Filipino audience.
“This should be on performance level. We dance to be one and celebrate the spirit of Christmas,” he says.
Sitting on a chair, Bereber raises his arms and flicks his fingers as he speaks: “Imagine the snowflakes falling. Now stretch and grab the snowflakes.” Bereber sweeps his arms across the screen and pretends to seize large ice crystals.
He outlines a triangle and tells his audience to imagine a Christmas tree.
Then, lifting his chest toward the ceiling and stretching his arms to the side, he exclaims with wide grin, “You’re receiving a gift. Feel the joy!”
A mime class, it is not. The choreographer is addressing patients with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative nervous system ailment that affects movement, balance and, consequently, emotions. In every class, the teacher aims to stimulate the students’ happy hormones through dance.