A story, told in dance steps, of people with Parkinson’s finding balance in the movements and rhythms of the Argentine tango.
Four couples living with Parkinson’s disease attend a dance class for people with balance issues. The dance becomes entwined with their stories as they master the basic walking steps of the Argentine tango and work towards a choreographed performance for a group of people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Along the way, they reflect on how dancing is helping them to confront their diagnosis and what it means to them.
Roy Jones has been living with Parkinson’s for over twenty years. He and his wife Pat are learning Argentina’s ‘walking dance’ as a way to counteract the loss of movement associated with the condition.
“If I freeze, I automatically think of a dance step and it kick-starts my brain,” says Roy. “It’s like having a tooth missing from a cog. Suddenly you jump that missing tooth, and I’m moving again… I’m dancing… and that’s where I want to be.”
Joy Rainbird attends the class every week with her husband John as a way to overcome his rapidly advancing Parkinson’s. “It takes me back to when we were confident and I used to trust John to hold me and sway me and lead me...”
Julie Douglas, who partners her mother, finds dancing an escape from the frustration of trying to do things with Parkinson’s. Norman Moore and his wife Glynis use the tango steps to overcome the physical “stutter” of his condition.
Produced by Cicely Fell
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
[photo credit: Cicely Fell]
Art of Now: Innervisions
Blind musicians have been no strangers to the concert platform and the studio - from St Cecilia herself (patron saint of music) to blues singers Willie McTell and Lemon Jefferson, from Ray Charles to Andrea Bocelli. But how do people who can't see make music in the era of composing and mixing via touch screens?
Trevor Dann meets the multi-ethnic UK-based Inner Vision Orchestra, DJ Monix, award-winning classical and jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker and the blues duo Innervision to hear about the creative brain's remarkable capacity to manage without sight and spatial awareness. Musicians and composers share their experiences and researchers explain the latest advances as listeners are taken on an audio journey into the dark.
DJ Monix, a 37-year-old New Jersey-based techno DJ, producer and podcaster, explains how he fills dance floors from Miami to Ibiza without ever seeing his audience.
Teenage keyboard sensation Matthew Whitaker discusses growing up in the era of touch screen composing and editing,
Innervision, a blues duo, talk about their secret language. Genene (she's black) and Sam (he's white) were born exactly one month apart in the same hospital and lost their vision at birth. They spent the first weeks of their lives together in the same intensive care unit and developed a musical bond which still flourishes.
Baluji Shrivastav OBE, founder of The Inner Vision Orchestra, the UK's only ensemble of visually impaired musicians, explains why the band plays in the dark to help sighted audiences experience the music exactly as the players do.
Dr Michael Proulx, from the Department of Psychology, University of Bath introduces his work on the vOICe sensory substitution device which is "helping the brain to see again".
A Folder & Co production for BBC Radio 4
The Unheard Third
As we approach the most unpredictable General Election in decades, Adrian Chiles talks to an often forgotten group - the habitual non-voter. Around 18 million people didn’t cast their ballot in the last election, so what’s keeping them from the polls?
The majority of people who don’t vote are from two groups, low income households and the young – groups often most affected by policy. Some fear being on the electoral roll and aren’t even registered, many others are registered but just don’t feel well enough informed.
“I don’t know about politics so I’m expecting leaders to show us the way but they don’t.”
“I don’t really understand any of it. I have a lack of confidence in my intelligence.”
It was not always this way. Between 1922 and 1997, voter turnout remained above 70% with a peak of nearly 84% in 1950 to return Clement Attlee to power. But in 2001, turnout slumped to 59% and has not recovered to the 70% mark since.
With over a third of the population not casting their vote in General Elections, some claim the results do not therefore represent genuine public opinion. Some call for electoral reform and changes in how we register, others argue polling day could be made more accessible. Local authorities encourage people to register but it’s down to political parties to improve political engagement, and very few of the people Adrian has spoken to for this documentary have been on the receiving end of any campaigns. With limited resources, the parties concentrate on the marginal constituencies they can win, not the areas with low turnout – as one pollster told us, "They don’t vote so they don’t matter. My clients who are interested in democracy are interested in voters, not non-voters."
In The Unheard Third, their voices do matter. As one political watcher told us, “In this election they are an x factor. They are hard to predict. They could be a disruptive force and should not be underestimated.”
Produced by Henrietta Harrison
Presented by Adrian Chiles
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4
Altamont: The Death of the Hippie Dream
Georgia Bergman, who was Mick Jagger’s personal assistant in 1969, returns to the scene of one of rock’s most notorious concerts. She gives an insider’s perspective on the cultural impact of the event, detailing why it happened, what went wrong and how the concert marked the end of the 60s hippie dream.
Georgia is joined by others who worked with the Rolling Stones at the Altamont concert on December 6, 1969 - including their Business Manager Ron Schneider, the Tour Manager Sam Cutler, Production Designer Chip Monck, film maker Albert Maysles, photographer Eamon McCabe and journalist Michael Lydon.
A Ten Alps production for BBC Radio 4
Exhaustion: A History
Are we really more exhausted today than we have ever been before? Writer and broadcaster Philip Ball sets out on a journey to discover a forgotten history of listlessness, burn-out and fatigue.
The story he uncovers reveals modern concerns with being tired out, that can feel unique to our time, have in fact been shared by many previous generations that also claimed to be ages of exhaustion.
From Ancient Greek bodily concerns with imbalances in the four humours, to spiritual failings of desert dwelling monks of early Christianity. From celestial bodies of Renaissance thinking, to the moralistic sexual messages of the 18th and 19th century Vampires. What does exhaustion show us about our preoccupations of the past?
As we arrive at the industrial revolution and the rhythms of contemporary life start to change, it’s the exhaustion of the outside world that comes into play. Yet the age old prejudices of class, sex and race continue in its interpretations.
Today, listlessness and burnout still serve as a bridge to our wider anxieties. But are brand new stakes in the history of exhaustion entering the fray? Our depleted world, sapped of its resources, desperately seeks new sources of energy. Is civilisation and our planet now jeopardised by exhaustion too?
Presented by Philip Ball
Producer: David Waters
A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4