Dancing with Parkinson's disease

April 24, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
For the millions of people who suffer from Parkinson's disease, life can be difficult. But a new, free program from a professional dance company is boosting people's spirits and their health.

The Mark Morris Dance Group dances on many world stages.

But at their home studios in Brooklyn, there is a slightly different set of dancers!

The company holds free weekly classes for people with Parkinson's disease and their caregivers.

The class is taught by Mark Morris Dance Group faculty members and was initiated by Olie Westheimer, who founded the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.

"There is no mention of Parkinson's disease or problems in this class," Olie Westheimer fro Brooklyn Parkinson Group said. "It's just a dance class."

It's a dance class which provides more than dance lessons.

Today's teacher Misty Owens says dance helps alleviate symptoms for many of the participants.

"It helps them understand their body and relate to their body differently by taking the class," Mark Morris Dance Group faculty Misty Owen said.

And always there's live music.

"It's just wonderful," Parkinson's disease patient Donna Davis said. "When people with Parkinson's hear the music, they can move when they can't normally move."

Pamela Quinn teaches a movement class on a different day of the week.

She's a former professional dancer who herself developed Parkinson's disease.

She's developed coping mechanisms based on her knowledge of dance and movement. She now teaches them to others.

"I find the body really responds to little challenges," Pamela Quinn said.

Studies say dance groups provide physical help, social and emotional support.

  • For more information on the Walk for Parkinson Unity Walk being held Saturday, click here!

    You can call 866-puw-walk (789-9255), log on to UNITYWALK.ORG or email info@unitywalk.org

  • For more information, visit Brooklyn Parkinson Group or Mark Morris Dance Group.