Heights and Hills Spring Benefit: May 22, 2013

NEW YORK (May 16, 2013) Heights and Hills will host its annual Spring Benefit on Wednesday, May 22nd at 6:30 pm.

Heights and Hills will host its 2013 Spring Benefit in the landmarked library of the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont St. The benefit will honor Mark Morris, the Founder and Artistic Director of the Mark Morris Dance Group.  The organization will also present the Mary Ellen Critchlow Community Service Award to Olie Westheimer, the Founder and Executive Director of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.

The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group created Dance for PD®, which is a program for people with Parkinson’s disease in New York. Through a network of partners and associates, Dance for PD® is now offered in more than 100 other communities around the world. MMDG also partners with the NYC Housing Authority to provide free programming to senior residents of Brooklyn public housing. In addition to its partnership with MMDG, Brooklyn Parkinson Group offers free singing, movement technique, fitness classes and art workshops.  Mark and Olie share Heights and Hills’ vision for making communities livable for older adults, thereby benefitting all residents.

“As an organization that has dedicated over 40 years to successful aging in Brooklyn, we are aware of how integral the arts are all across the lifespan;” said Judy Willig, LCSW, Executive Director of Heights and Hills. “Thanks to Dance for PD®, many formerly home-bound individuals now have the opportunity to reconnect with movement and their community, which dramatically improves one’s mental and physical well-being. We are delighted to have the opportunity to honor Mark Morris and Olie Westheimer this Spring and commend them on their dedication to this community.

For more information, please contact: Maria Portman Kelly, BPG Programs manager

917 952 7056; Maria Portman Kelly <maria@brooklynparkinsongroup.org>


About Heights and Hills: Heights and Hills promotes successful aging in the community. Since 1971, Heights and Hills has helped people live their older years on their terms, independently and with dignity. Today, Heights and Hills is one of the largest providers of social services for older adults in Brooklyn annually serving over 3,000 older adults and the families who care for them throughout 19 neighborhoods, through the provision of case management, caregiver services and transportation.

Many Heights and Hills clients live alone, without access to medical, social and financial support.  Caring, multi-lingual staff go into their homes, identify what they need and advocate tirelessly on their behalf. Volunteers supplement direct services by offering medical escorting, friendly visiting and inter-generational engagement. 

What makes Heights and Hills truly unique is its emphasis on community building and collaboration.  Heights and Hills remains dedicated to making Brooklyn a more livable community for people of all ages.



About Dance for PD®: Dance for PD® was founded by MMDG in 2001 in collaboration with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.  This program provides free, specialized dance classes with live accompaniment for those living with Parkinson’s disease, their caregivers, family and friends.  Dance for PD classes are offered weekly at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY, and several times a month at The Juilliard School in Manhattan.  MMDG recently launched a monthly Dance for PD class in Forest Hills, Queens.


About Brooklyn Parkinson Group: Brooklyn Parkinson Group supports persons with Parkinson’s disease and their families with arts and wellness programs in collaboration with community organizations and artists.

 BPG first collaborated with Mark Morris Dance Group to create Dance for PD classes, and soon after added its singing, movement technique, fitness classes and art workshops.  All classes, which are free of charge, are taught by professionals in their fields, rather than therapists, with time to meet before and after activities for social interaction.  BPG sponsors three support group meetings; one facilitated through Heights and Hills Caregiver Program. 


About Mark Morris: Mark Morris was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, he per­formed with the companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980, and has since created more than 140 works for the company. From 1988 to 1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Much in demand as a ballet choreographer, Morris has created eighteen ballets since 1986 and his work is in the repertory of companies worldwide. Noted for musicality, he has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music” (The New Yorker). He began conducting performances for MMDG in 2006 and has since conducted at The International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Lincoln Center, and Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). He also works extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English National Opera and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, among others. In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation and has received eleven honorary doctorates to date. He has taught at the University of Washington, Princeton University and Tanglewood Music Center. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and has served as an Advisory Board Member for the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative. In recent years, he has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2007), the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society (2010), the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity (2012) and Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts (2013). Morris opened the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York in 2001 to provide a home for his company, rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for local children and seniors, and a school offering dance classes to students of all ages and abilities.


About The Mark Morris Dance Group: The MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP was formed in 1980 and gave its first concert that year in New York City.  The company’s touring schedule steadily expanded to include cities in the U.S. and around the world, and in 1986 it made its first national television program for the PBS series Dance in America.  In 1988, MMDG was invited to become the national dance company of Belgium, and spent three years in residence at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. The company returned to the United States in 1991 as one of the world’s leading dance companies, performing across the U.S. and at major international festivals. Based in Brooklyn, NY, the company maintains strong ties to several cities around the world, most notably its West Coast home, Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA, and its Midwest home, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. MMDG also appears regularly in New York City, Boston, MA; Fairfax, VA; and Seattle, WA.  MMDG made its debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival in 2002 and at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 2003 and has since been invited to both festivals annually. From the company’s many London seasons, it has garnered two Laurence Olivier Awards. MMDG is noted for its commitment to live music, a feature of every performance on its international touring schedule since 1996. MMDG collaborates with leading orchestras, opera companies, and musicians including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, percussionist and composer Zakir Hussain, jazz trio The Bad Plus, pianists Emanuel Ax, Garrick Ohlsson, as well as with the English National Opera, among others. In September of 2001, the Mark Morris Dance Center opened in Brooklyn, NY, to provide a home for the company, rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for local children and seniors, and a school offering dance classes to students of all ages.  For more information, visit www.mmdg.org.