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People with Parkinson’s are Dancing

18 Sep 2019 5:20 PM | Dan Sidler (Administrator)

People with Parkinson’s are dancing.  And starting in October, people with Parkinson’s and their care partners will be able to dance with The Sarasota Ballet.

“We are thrilled to announce that Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s and The Sarasota Balletare partnering to provide “Dancing through Parkinson’s” for our Parkinson’s community,” said Robyn Faucy-Washington, CEO of Neuro Challenge and Iain Webb, Director of The Sarasota Ballet, in a joint statement.

Parkinson’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease with no known cure. According to Faucy-Washington, numerous studies show that dance helps improve mobility, balance, and gait by addressing the motor symptoms of PD which include resting tremors, slowness of movement, and difficulties with balance as well as non-motor symptoms such as anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders.

“The goal of Parkinson’s therapies is to slow the progression of the disease,” said Faucy-Washington. “Dancing through Parkinson’s” integrates physical, cognitive and social activities while including movements that are shown to target areas of the brain affected by Parkinson’s.”

The partnership of these two organizations grew from the hard work and passion of Kate Honea, Principal Dancer and Assistant Ballet Mistress for The Sarasota Ballet. For the past several years Honea has worked tirelessly as both an advocate and teacher for the positive impact dance can have on Parkinson’s.

The Neuro Challenge Foundation is a special organization to my family and me,” said Honea. “For the past several years I have worked with numerous people with Parkinson’s in the studio, and two years ago I received my certificate of training from Dance for PD®. I am honored to be able to share the joy of dance with the Parkinson's community to improve their quality of life.”

The Dance for PD® program, developed by David Leventhal in 2001 for the Mark Morris Dance Group, has become a model for classes targeting Parkinson’s in more than 300 communities in 25 countries.

“Having known about the work Mark Morris and David Leventhal had done with dance and Parkinson’s, I was so thrilled when Kate came to me with the proposal for Dancing through Parkinson’s,” explained Webb. “Kate is an incredible person - caring, tremendously talented, and incredibly smart, and this program will flourish in her hands.”

Assisting Honea will be Sarasota Ballet Education Director Christopher Hird and faculty member Sarah Krazit, who will be undertaking the Dance for PD® training as well. “We believe in the benefits of dance for all ages and abilities and are excited to be able to improve and inspire the lives of people with Parkinson’s through dance,” said Hird.   

Students will experience a lively and varied class including gentle stretching plus tailored dance steps and music from this year’s Sarasota Ballet season.

Dancing for Parkinson’s will meet twice a month beginning on Tuesday, October 1 at 11:30am. The class will take place at The Sarasota Ballet School Rosemary Studios at 1400 Blvd. of the Arts. The class is free and opens to people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers; no previous dance experience is necessary. Advance registration is not required. For more information, call Neuro Challenge at (941) 926-6413.

Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. All programs and services are provided at no charge. For more information and free resources, visit www.neurochallenge.org or call (941) 926-6413.

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