Pamela Quinn visits ASaP

ASaP was delighted to have Pamela Quinn return to Brown to present to our

class again. She spoke of her personal and professional experience with

Parkinson’s disease. She took us through her time when her symptoms first

appeared 25 years ago and described how she approached her own

version of therapeutic movement which was informed by both her training in

ballet and modern dance. After showing us examples of her choreography and

how it was structured to make use of cues, she instructed the students to make

their own short dances, each one including an audible, tactile and visual cue. 

We added music to those who wanted it.  Imaginative and creative solutions

came from all the groups as well as lots of smiles and laughter. They were


The take away for the students was to encourage them to believe in their own

convictions, however versed or new they are to a situation. That was key in

Quinn’s own approach to her condition.

Pam quinn--students dancing.jpg
Pam Quinn and class.jpg

2019 ASaP Symposium

On March 16, a spirited group gathered in Studio One at Granoff Center for the Creative Arts on Brown’s campus. It was “The Power of Partnerships on College Hill and Beyond,” ASaP’s 7th symposium, and the day was spent celebrating the partnerships and the people who make our work possible at the intersection of art and science. 

Those gathered represented Dance for All People (DAPpers), Dance with PD (Parkinson’s disease), The Miracle Project (TMP, an inclusive theater-arts programs for people on the autism spectrum), researchers working in the field of arts-based health programming, and students and friends of ASaP. The focus was on the people and programs who are making a difference through collaboration and community work.

The community Dance for PD class got us moving as dozens of dancers of all ages and abilities were led by David Leventhal and Rachel Balaban. Former ASaP student and TA Melanie Ambler provided the dancers with the gift of live cellist accompaniment. 

Following the class, we had a lecture demonstration highlighting Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Etude performed by DAPpers, Central Falls High School and Brown Extension dancers and professional dancers from Dancing Legacy. A special treat was watching the DAPpers and Central Falls High School dancers perform original pieces illustrating their interpretation of the Rainbow etude themes of oppression and freedom.

(To watch Lec/Dem videos, return to the events page.)

A showcase followed in the afternoon, highlighting some of our partnerships. It was a thrill to see The Miracle Project New England (TMP/NE) summer campers have their ASaP Symposium debut. TMP/NE partners with Brown and the RI Philharmonic, which has hosted the week-long camp for the last two years. On this day, several camp participants showed us what they learned last summer and how much they enjoy singing and dancing.

The second part of the showcase was a conversation between Stacey Springs and Melanie Ambler discussing the power of partnerships. Stacey is a researcher in the Center of Evidence Synthesis in Brown’s School of Public Health and Melanie, Brown ‘18.5, concentrated in and is bound for France to study the effects of movement and dementia. Listening to their conversation was a powerful reminder of how important mentorship is for both the student and the advisor. The exchange of energy between both parties is key.

The day ended with a Design Thinking workshop led by Allison Inglesbe, an experienced DT facilitator. With Allison’s guidance, innovative ideas were generated around art and healing, encouraging us to think big, have fun and create solutions without censoring ourselves. 

The result was a wide range of solutions that challenged all to think in new and creative ways. 

The day long symposium once again demonstrated the power of our existing partnerships and the drive to expand our work by creating and developing more partnerships. We’re better together.

Humanities in Medicine Symposium—Jacksonville, Florida November 10-11, 2018

Melanie Ambler | Neuroscience Concentrator | Former ASaP TA

Watch Here:

            Over the weekend of November 10th and 11th, I had the pleasure of joining Rachel in what would be the most inspiring weekend of my life. For two jam-packed days, we existed in a microcosm of artist scientists, of professionals dedicated to the humanities in medicine. We spoke to physicians, art therapists, music therapists, photographers, teachers, students, and left each conversation with ideas and questions. A man asked me, after the first day, how I felt, and I could only respond with one word.


            We were treated to keynote speeches by some absolutely incredible individuals. Richard Kogan treated us to almost an hour and a half of combined music and lecture. He described the life of George Gershwin, one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century and punctuated each major life event with a signature piece written by Gershwin himself. A psychiatrist and renowned pianist, Dr. Kogan embodies the persona of the conference. He refuses to give up either passion and makes it a goal to learn more about his music through understanding the psychiatric intricacies of his patients. To say this talk was fascinating would be an understatement. He held the audience’s captivation—we laughed, some cried, and we all were transfixed while he played.

            The keynotes were just one component of the day. In between the morning keynotes were the PechaKucha Presentations, or a presentation consisting of 20 slides that automatically change after 20 seconds. The presenter has exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. These presentations ranged from introducing Improv classes for doctors, using storytelling for persons with OCD, decreasing mental health stigma through graphic art, and, yours truly, Artists and Scientists as Partners.

            Rachel and I presented a PechaKucha entitled “You CAN Take it With You” in which we introduce ASaP and the wonderful opportunity it provides undergraduates like me to feel confident that they can take their passions with them into their futures. We started off the first 20 seconds with a bit of movement. Seeing the entire conference follow along and move to our beat was a really amazing visual. 200 hands shook in synchrony and I could see smiles forming on a lot of faces. After our presentation, one man came up to Rachel and said our entire presentation was like a dance. This was exactly what we were hoping for.

            Overall, my experience at the conference cemented what I want to do with my life. That’s no small task, but it was accomplished with ease once I met the attendees. It was such a welcoming, inclusive, supporting environment and I look forward to spreading this enthusiasm to others.

We Are All Miracles

By Jane Hong | Science and Society Concentrator | ASaP TA

This summer, I finally got to be a part of The Miracle Project (TMP) in New England. TMP is a musical theater program based in Los Angeles for students on the autism spectrum. 

I had been introduced to the program through ASaP as a freshmen. My passion for the arts and children with special needs immediately latched onto the program’s core principle that “We are All Miracles”. I vicariously followed the program through books, research articles and even seminars with the founder, Elaine Hall. 

As the camp began, I was immensely excited to meet the ten students who had signed up. What kind of miracles would be walking through our doors? But at the same time, I was nervous. Would I be able to connect with these students who all communicated with the world in such different ways? 

On the first day, some campers greeted me with an enthusiastic smile while some didn’t look at my face but said “hi” distantly. While it took some time for me to figure out the best way to greet each camper, the rest of the camp flew by in a literal blur. We danced to new songs across the floor and played theater games while our amazing on-site aide ran around the room creating visual cue cards and handing out pillows to ensure all the campers felt comfortable and safe. 

While I had known a lot about the program itself, I realized I hadn't considered how it would make me feel. I was surprised to see how much energy it took to truly “be in the moment” with the campers and staff at all times. No matter how much I slept or how much coffee I drank, I seemed to be struggling to keep my eyes open on the car ride home. But as a I closed my eyes, I would remember everything that I had experienced by being in the moment. I had witnessed a beautiful piano performance by a camper who had a difficult time conversing with others; a friendship forming between two shy campers; and the connections the campers were making with each other and the staff. This was the beauty of being in the moment. Everything I had done, the campers would always do more for me. They even helped me confirm that I had chosen the right path for my studies and profession: I am the happiest when I am working at the intersection of art and medicine. 

Reflections on Artists and Scientists as Partners

In this short podcast, Zachary Zuckerman and Hannah Seckendorf investigate what makes Artists and Scientists as Partners meaningful for both student and instructor. They interviewed professors Rachel Balaban and Julie Strandberg to learn more about the history of the class, as well as what inspired its creation. After learning about the structure and intention of the course, they spoke with teaching apprentice Natalie Berger to learn more about the experience of the course from a student who had taken both the fall and spring components. Through their voices, this podcast explores the essence of why, now more than ever, it is both crucial and rewarding to unite artists and scientists in a quest to change how we heal in modern culture.  

Empowering Health, Creatively

Medicine is said to be an art. But can art be medicine, a health intervention? The short answer is, "Absolutely.”

So said the announcement for an extraordinary panel discussion I recently joined in the Creative Medicine Lecture Series at Brown University’s Cogut Center. And the proof of that statement? It’s in a body of medical literature that really does demonstrate the impact of the arts on individuals and communities.

Humanities in Medicine Symposium

Julie Strandberg and I traveled to Rochester, Minnesota to attend The 4th Annual Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine Symposium[link?]?. Health Humanities explores the relationship between human well-being and humanistic disciplines to promote the artful and compassionate delivery of health care. This conference offered the opportunity to reflect on and share experiences of the patient and the care provider, and to advocate for emerging research and innovation in the field.

Commencement Dance Concert

In April, the DAPpers were invited to perform in the final dance concert of the academic year, the Commencement Dance Concert. The performance would include DAPpers, Brown Dance Extension, Central Falls High School dancers and dancers from Dancing Legacy, ADLI’s professional company. Typically, once the March lec/dem is over, we set aside the etude we’ve worked on for the last 3 months and begin focusing on new material. The invitation to perform motivated us to continue to rehearse the etude.

Bass, Movement and Groove—A sound study

In previous studies conducted by Dr. Michael J. Hove PhD, evidence was found to support the idea that the bass frequency of music is connected to the movement timing of dancers, the movement induction of listeners as well as the quality of timing cues. This spring, a new study was conducted with participants from the DAPpers class in order to determine whether these findings have any clinical benefits for those who use dance as a method of relief from the symptoms associated with neurodegenerative movement disorders. Specifically, we investigated whether songs with more bass promote movement in patients with Parkinson’s disease more than songs with less bass.

2017 International Health Humanities Consortium: "Diversity, Cultures, and Health Humanities"

On Saturday March 11, 2017, Rachel (Balaban) and Julie (Strandberg) presented a panel discussion with Celeste Miller of Grinnell College called The Undeniability of the Body: The Role of Dance with Both Patients and Medical Practitioners. The program at Grinnell focuses on working with medical students, while Artists and Scientists as Partners (ASaP) trains undergraduates to work with persons with Parkinson’s disease and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

INTERGENERATIVITY—ASaP’s 5th Annual Symposium March 4

INTERGENERATIVITY—ASaP’s 5th Annual Symposium  March 4

Our 5th annual ASaP Symposium focused on intergenerativity and the power of uniting people across the generations to inspire community, conversation and creativity. We were fortunate to have Dr. Peter Whitehouse as our keynote speaker. A Brown graduate and expert in the field of gerontology and intergenerativity (he coined the word), Peter donned his tree hat and t-shirt and explored our interelatedness through art, humanities, science, health and society. 

ASaP Goes to Cambridge for ArtScience Talk at Le Lab

ASaP went to Harvard in late February to tell its story and highlight the need for arts education for medical practitioners as a way to help them navigate in the face of ambiguity and uncertainty. Dr. Jay Baruch joined Rachel Balaban and Julie Strandberg for a presentation to an audience of 75 to address questions like why should physicians be taught to think like "science-using" artists and what happens when physicians and artists work together as partners to improve the health of patients? 

Highlights from Spring Semester 2016

Our ASaP spring semester was a busy one. It started with our annual ASaP Symposium, with the theme of Arts Programming in Health-Designing the Next Steps including guests Dr. Sara Houston, David Leventhal, Dr. Barry Prizant, Dr. Colleen Cavanaugh, Jane Hesser and Deanna Camputaro. The day included workshops, a lec-dem and discussion groups, ending with a design workshop led by student/TA Miranda Olson. The design workshop provided attendees with inspiring ways to put their ideas into action.