To Dance. To Dream. One day we will find a Cure.
One of the enduring mysteries about Parkinson’s disease is why dancing to a strong beat unlocks the movements of people who are normally stiff and periodically immobilized because of this degenerative disorder.
Across the country, dance classes for people with Parkinson’s are gaining in popularity and several Parkinson Canada locations are coordinating such offerings with local dance education instructors and partners. Through webinars, conferences and panel discussions, Parkinson Canada supports the efforts of dance instructors and encourages people living with Parkinson’s to participate and discover the healing power of this activity.
And research backs up what the participants know: It’s good for them.
Research indicates that dance is an effective, complementary intervention to drug therapies, for those living with Parkinson’s disease, according to Rachel Bar, Manager, Health and Research Initiatives, at Canada’s National Ballet School. “More than 40 research studies have established its benefits,” she says.
Parkinson Canada is proud to be a partner in the Dance for Parkinson’s Network Canada.
AB (Alice Betty) Rustin has been taking a Sharing Dance for People with Parkinson’s class at Canada’s National Ballet School for three years now and another Dancing with Parkinson’s class in Toronto. “It’s always great to spend time with others with Parkinson’s,” says Rustin. “And I feel better after a class. The movements are not as strenuous as in an exercise class. They are much more fluid. And, you’ve got the wonderful music.” (Watch a CBC TV segment on dancing and Parkinson’s here.)
At York University in Toronto, neuroscientist Joseph DeSouza is deciphering the positive effects of dancing, thanks to a research award from Parkinson Canada, by scanning the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease who are learning to dance.
Working with Canada’s National Ballet School, DeSouza and his graduate students investigate the regions of the brain activated when people with Parkinson’s visualize themselves performing the steps of a ballet they have recently learned. They scan people again once they’ve practised their dance for weeks.
“We hope to find the neural architecture that is related to learning and dancing,” says DeSouza. “We already see from the preliminary research in Parkinson’s disease that it [dancing] is using a lot of brain structures outside of the basal ganglia.”
Beyond improvements in balance and gait, which last long after the dance class ends, researcher Joseph DeSouza wants people to know about its other benefits: “It’s almost like a supplemental therapy that helps people living with Parkinson’s cope with whatever they’re dealing with.”
Look for DeSouza’s webinar entitled “Alternative Parkinson’s Therapies: Music & Dance” on August 14, 2018 at 12 PM EST at http://www.parkinson.ca/event/alternative-parkinsons-therapies-music-dance/ or you can hear him live in Sault Ste. Marie on May 29th 2018 http://www.parkinson.ca/event/sault-ste-marie-may-29th/
In Saskatchewan, the Parkinson Canada Regina support group offers a Creative Dance Movement for Parkinson’s class with dance instructor Fran Gilboy, who completed initial specialty training with Sarah Robichaud of Dancing with Parkinson’s in Toronto last May.
“My heart strings are really pulled by this group,” says Gilboy, who has long taught creative dance to both children and adults. “There is a whole different level of pleasure in teaching this Parkinson’s group. There is the simple essence of joy in dance and other things just fall away. It’s now my favourite class,” she says.
Parkinson Canada’s Education Conference Inspired Movement will take place in Saskatoon on April 27-29 2018.
Pour de plus amples informations, veuillez visiter www.parkinson.ca/fr
Welcome to the Dance for Parkinson’s Network Canada’s (DFPNC’s) first enewsletter.
Like you, each of our founding partners believes that high quality dance programs for people with Parkinson’s disease should be easily accessible anywhere in the country.
The enewsletter, published once every quarter, will focus on our network’s main goals of improving access to programs, training and professional development across the country. We encourage Charter members to use the DFNC Facebook page to comment and ask questions in response to the enewsletter articles.
Canada’s National Ballet School is launching the first issue and we want to highlight the broad Parkinson’s dance community, not just in Canada, but globally, too. Rachel Bar, NBS’ Manager, Research and Health Initiatives attended the People Dancing conference in the UK in November. There, she found a huge and well-established community dedicated to getting all people dancing. Just a few weeks later, Anna Leatherdale, Producer, Professional Development from People Dancing visited Canada and participated in one of NBS’ Parkinson’s classes – her visit to NBS is the beginning of a meaningful partnership and we’ll share in subsequent enews stories our partnership plans.
Earlier this month, NBS’ Tuesday Parkinson’s class welcomed Grade 2 students, staff and parents from Sunnybrook Public School in Toronto. Students participated in the whole class, beginning with seated warm-up exercises, moving to standing and stretching with pliés and then pairing up with the regular dancers for creative movement exercises. The class ended with centre work and waltzes, singly and in smaller groups. The regular Tuesday dancers were thrilled to welcome the young students and made sure they were warmly included into the class.
We’ve welcomed young students from nearby schools into our Parkinson’s classes on previous occasions. While there’s additional effort and organization required to ensure the classes run smoothly, they’ve always generated a wonderful sense of community. Teachers who might not generally participate in dance activities are drawn to engage, ensuring they are also able to enjoy the benefits of dance and sense of community group dancing entails.
Have you extended invitations to other individuals or groups to join your Parkinson’s classes? What’s worked for you in this regard? Thinking about extending your “community” but aren’t sure how to? Why not post a comment on the facebook page so other network members may respond to it.
Not a member of the DFPNC facebook page? Please email Niamh Byrne Rodgers at firstname.lastname@example.org to gain access.
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