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“Now I’m on Top of the World!” Dancing with Parkinson’s providing individuals with a new lease of life!

11th April 2019

Dancing with Parkinson’s is a series of specialist classes for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. The classes help patients to manage their symptoms and St George’s Hospital Charity are thrilled to be funding such important work. The dance classes are held every week at Queen Mary’s University Hospital in Roehampton and are led by the UK’s leading dance and Parkinson’s facilitator, Danielle Teale.

Growing evidence has highlighted the physical, mental and social benefits that dance can provide for individuals living with Parkinson’s. Dance has been found to develop confidence in physical ability and provide an opportunity for creativity and self-expression. The movements also increase strength and, for some individuals, can temporarily relieve their symptoms.

Danielle has been leading dance classes for people with Parkinson’s around the country for the last 10 years and runs her own flagship programme Dancing with Parkinson’s with St George’s as a partner. Danielle trained to lead dance for people with Parkinson’s with the renowned Mark Morris Company in New York. She was also the founding artist on English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme which started in 2008. Danielle now continues this role whilst also running her own programme which involves leading classes, choreographic projects, research, artist development and mentoring in order to train more facilitators and increase awareness and accessibility of the programme.

Danielle introduced her programme at Queen Mary’s Hospital in January 2018 and it is now being funded by the charity for a fourth term. She will additionally be researching and evaluating the programme as part of her PhD with University of Roehampton along with Anna Conway, Specialist Physiotherapist, investigating how the benefits found within the classes can affect the individuals outside of the class environment, in their everyday lives.

We caught up with Danielle to talk about the benefits of her Dancing with Parkinson’s classes:

“As well as offering physical benefits, the classes have been found to have a significant social impact on the individuals. I have noticed a significant change since they first started the class; they now seem like a completely different group! This therefore highlights that a group environment and group exercise are incredibly important for these individuals. Being able to tell their friends and family about the class has given them a sense of pride in themselves that they had previously lost.”

“I have also noticed a shift in their mind-set. At the beginning of the programme they focused a lot of their energy worrying about what they weren’t able to do. They are now brighter, energised and more focused on what they can do; they look at their ability in a more positive light.”

We hope that Dancing with Parkinson’s will build confidence for our patients and lead each individual to feel confident enough to take risks and enjoy life outside of the class environment, something many struggled to do before they started.

One of our regular Dancing with Parkinson’s participants said: “It’s helping me to walk better and keeps me active. I feel more energised which enables me to do more tasks at home. I felt isolated when I first started but now I’m on top of the world.”

Dancing with Parkinson’s is currently funded by the Big Lottery. This funding, however, will soon run out. Any additional donations will allow for these classes and the research to continue, making a real difference to the lives of those living with Parkinson’s.

To make a donation and support this vital work, please visit: https://www.stgeorgeshospitalcharity.org.uk/donate/intro


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