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Parkinson's Dance

Parkinson's disease (PD) presents unique challenges, affecting movement, balance, and overall quality of life. While traditional treatments like medication and physical therapy offer significant benefits, integrating dance into Parkinson's care has emerged as an innovative approach. Dance for Parkinson’s is an internationally acclaimed program that offers research-backed dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease. The program was developed by the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY, and has expanded to more than 28 countries since its inception. The mission of Dance for Parkinson’s is for “people with Parkinson’s around the world to enjoy and benefit from specialized dance instruction.” 

David Leventhal, founding member of Dance for PD, stresses that this is a dance class, and the participants are dancers, not simply people with Parkinson’s. 

Understanding Parkinson's Disease:

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement. It occurs due to the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, leading to motor symptoms such as tremors, rigidity (stiffness), slowness of movement (bradykinesia), and impaired balance. Individuals may experience non-motor symptoms as the disease progresses, including cognitive decline, mood changes, and fatigue.

The Role of Dance in Parkinson's Care:

Dance has gained recognition as an effective therapeutic intervention for Parkinson's disease due to its multifaceted benefits. Unlike traditional exercises, dance engages the body, mind, and spirit, offering physical, emotional, and social benefits simultaneously. Dance for Parkinson's programs are carefully designed to address specific motor and non-motor symptoms while promoting overall well-being.

Structure of the Dance for Parkinson's Program:

The Dance for Parkinson's program typically consists of structured dance classes led by trained instructors with expertise in both dance and Parkinson's care. Classes are tailored to accommodate the unique needs and abilities of participants, ensuring a safe and supportive environment. Here's an overview of what participants can expect from a typical session:

  • Warm-up: Each class begins with a gentle warm-up to prepare the body for movement. Warm-up exercises focus on increasing flexibility, mobility, and circulation while promoting relaxation and body awareness.

  • Movement Exploration: Participants engage in a variety of movement exercises designed to address specific Parkinson's symptoms. These may include exercises to improve balance, coordination, gait, and range of motion. Participants are encouraged to explore movement in a creative and expressive manner, fostering a sense of freedom and empowerment.

  • Dance Sequences: The core of the class involves learning and practicing dance sequences set to music. Dances are carefully choreographed to incorporate rhythmic patterns, dynamic movements, and expressive gestures. Participants are encouraged to focus on rhythm, musicality, and synchronization while enjoying the pleasure of dancing.

  • Cool-down and Reflection: The class concludes with a gentle cool-down to gradually transition the body to a state of relaxation. Cool-down exercises focus on stretching, breathing, and mindfulness techniques to promote physical and mental well-being. Participants are invited to reflect on their experience and share any insights or feelings that arise during the session.

Benefits of the Dance for Parkinson's Program:

Improved Mobility and Motor Function: Dance offers a diverse range of movements that target various motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Regular participation in dance classes can help improve balance, coordination, flexibility, and gait, enhancing overall mobility and motor function.

  • Enhanced Mood and Emotional Well-being: Dance has been shown to positively impact mood and emotional well-being. The combination of music, movement, and social interaction stimulates the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. Dance classes provide a supportive and uplifting environment where participants can express themselves creatively and connect with others.

  • Cognitive Stimulation: Dance engages cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and executive function. Learning and remembering dance sequences, following musical cues, and coordinating movements with others require cognitive processing and mental agility. Dance classes offer a stimulating environment for cognitive stimulation and brain health.

  • Social Connection and Community: Parkinson's disease can often lead to social isolation and loneliness. Dance for Parkinson's programs provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with others who share similar experiences in a supportive and inclusive environment. Participants form bonds through shared movement, music, and laughter, creating a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

  • Empowerment and Self-expression: Dance empowers individuals to express themselves creatively and authentically. Participants can find joy and fulfillment in movement and self-expression regardless of physical limitations or challenges. Dance for Parkinson's programs promote a sense of agency and empowerment, allowing individuals to reclaim control over their bodies and lives.

The Dance for Parkinson's program offers a holistic approach to Parkinson's care, addressing both physical and emotional needs through the transformative power of dance. By integrating movement, music, and social interaction, this innovative program provides a supportive and uplifting environment where individuals can thrive despite the challenges of Parkinson's disease. At Wellness 360, we offer Parkinson’s dance classes led by dance teachers trained by the Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson’s program to allow our patients and clients to benefit from this revolutionary program. 

Interested in trying a class? Give us a call at (585) 259-0782, email us at, or visit our website at



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