Posts Tagged ‘parkinson’s’


Photo: James Glossop
Scottish Ballet expands Dance for Parkinson’s classes to cities across the country.

The class that comes right before my Essentrics stretch class on Thursdays is for people with Parkinson’s. The participants seem to enjoy it. One man, who is said to be over 100, routinely leaves the class with a smile on his face.

Exercise classes for people with Parkinson’s are not new, but there are always new locations offering them and new techniques to help people keep moving. Consider, for example, this report from Scotland, where the Scottish Ballet has a program.

Jeremy Watson writes at the Times, “Research has shown that dance can help people with the degenerative disease physically, mentally and socially. [At the Scottish Ballet,] staff and volunteers help participants develop movement skills with particular emphasis on fluidity, balance, co-ordination and posture. The sessions include activities focused on problem solving, improvisation, vocal skills, memory and multi-tasking.”

The Scottish Ballet website adds background. “Established in 2016, the Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland programme supports those with Parkinson’s to experience the benefits of dance and creativity — improving balance, spatial awareness, confidence and fluidity in movement. Every week, around 75 participants take part in sessions delivered by Scottish Ballet in Glasgow and Dance Base in Edinburgh. …

“The warm and informal Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland classes feature elements of ballet and contemporary dance with a focus on Scottish Ballet’s repertoire. Using the themes and movement from current productions, specially trained Scottish Ballet and Dance Base Dance Artists lead participants to develop movement skills with particular focus on fluidity of movement, balance, coordination, expression, posture and rhythm.”

The Edinburgh Parkinson’s site says that the aims of the classes “are to

* wake up stiff muscles and improve flexibility,
* encourage mind-body connection,
* improve co-ordination and balance, and
* increase self-awareness and self-esteem
* in a supportive and joyful environment

“The social time at the end of each session is a chance to make connections and feel part of the dance community. … The teachers have a wonderful sense of light-heartedness and fun which they bring to the classes. Live music is an essential ingredient, and we have a talented pianist, Robert Briggs, providing the accompaniment, so the music is used flexibly to encourage movement and development of sequences. …

“The original concept, arising from collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group in New York, is now increasingly practised worldwide among the Parkinson’s community.”

Patients’ partners and caregivers attend the class that I’ve looked in on, and they are welcome to participate and get some exercise, too. The musical selections are great, but unlike in Scotland, there is not a live accompaniment.

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Photo: Sara Krulwich/NYT

Everyone is beautiful in the ballet.”

The truth of that line is being demonstrated over and over again at English National Ballet — not just onstage but in classes for Parkinson’s patients.

According to the website Ballet.org, “Dance for Parkinson’s extends opportunities for people with Parkinson’s, their carers, friends and family members to engage in artistic dance activity inspired by the repertoire and within the professional environment of the dance studio.

“Regular weekly classes in London are based at our studios in Kensington. Our programme provides an insight into the way a production is put together with opportunities to meet our dancers and musicians, see rehearsals and English National Ballet performances.

The ballet did make me urgently want to move more, and move better and hinted at how this might be possible. – Participant, Dance for Parkinson’s London …

English National Ballet is proud to be part of the Mark Morris Dance Group Dance for PD membership programme and the Dance for Parkinson’s UK.” More at Ballet.org/uk.

The initiative receives significant support from the P H Holt Charitable Trust, D’Oyly Carte Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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