For International Dance Day, Dr. Sara Houston talks about how an innovative dance programme offers both physical and mental stimulation for those suffering with Parkinson’s disease.
“I was asked by English National Ballet in 2010 to evaluate its 12-week pilot dance class for people with Parkinson’s. The pilot became a regular dance programme and the evaluation turned into a three-year research study, bolstered by a BUPA Foundation prize in 2011. The controlled, mixed-method research engaged with dancers with Parkinson’s in London, Oxford and Liverpool.
My team have measured changes to stride patterns, muscle rigidity and posture, we have measured balance confidence, fall rates and progression of Parkinson’s, we have interpreted people’s responses in their diaries, interviews and focus groups.
The dance programme is one of a growing number worldwide offering dance, not as a therapy, but as art, to people with Parkinson’s. Participants learn adapted extracts from the company’s repertory, dancing to its music and create their own movement on the theme. They are given behind-the-scenes talks and treated to tickets to see the company perform.
You may have visions of ballerinas performing multiple pirouettes, of men leaping across the stage. A dance for Parkinson’s class doesn’t use the virtuosity of ballet, but it does use its principles: the outward focus, extension of arms and legs, pressure of the feet on the floor, lift of the torso, use of various movement qualities.”
An extract from Dancing with Parkinsons by Dr. Sara Houston – 29th April 2015
Full article available here.