Dance Ireland are organising weekly dance classes especially tailored for people with Parkinson’s disease. The classes are led by choreographer, dance artist and facilitator Olwyn Lyons.
“I don’t know if it happens to everyone, but I lose my symptoms when I’m there” is one of the many positive comments participants in the ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’ classes shared about their experiences, which involved exploring movement and music in ways that are energising, fun, stimulating and creative. According to Dance Ireland, the national dance development organisation, people affected by Parkinson’s Disease have hugely benefitted from taking part in dance classes as their range and fluidity of motion, multi-tasking, and balance increase; in addition to co-ordination and efficiency of movement.
Research shows improved movement, balance, gait, and cognitive performance. Studies also show that dancing may address each of the key areas that have been identified as being important for an exercise program designed for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Firstly, dance is an activity performed to music. The music may serve as an external cue to facilitate movement, but dance also involves the teaching of specific movement strategies, which is the second recommended component of a Parkinson’s-specific exercise program.
As well as physical improvement, participants claim to experience better mental health after dancing stating that when “The music and movement started, I was filled with great joy. I was able to take the whole class and walked out feeling accomplished.”
The classes take place in the DanceHouse in Dublin and online through Zoom making them accessible nationwide for everyone with this neurodegenerative movement disorder. Carers, family and friends are welcome in order to make any vulnerable dancer feel safe and supported. The class starts with a gentle chair based warm up, then works towards shifting weight out of the chair and up to standing before transferring weight and travelling through space. Affinities of movement, effort qualities and rhythm are explored as dancers connect to the music and enjoy moving together as a group.