'You just forget the fact you have Parkinson's': Regina dance class opens a world of motion for patients
Patients say they've benefited from the specialized movements
Dance is helping people with Parkinson's disease in Regina take back control of their movements.
The creative dance classes for those living with the neurodegenerative disorder started in March 2017.
The illness affects the central nervous system and can result in shaking, rigidity, and difficulty in moving.
Dawes and support group members wanted to start a dance class after reading about the benefits online.
A dance class specialized for those with Parkinson's disease was first developed in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has spread internationally.
Dawes said this is the first such class to be offered in Saskatchewan.
It provides large movements that help with the symptoms of rigidity and stiffness associated with Parkinson's.
"The music gets you moving more than a regular exercise program. It's good for your mind, and soul. It's the movement that arises from how the program is run," said Dawes.
Fran Gilboy, an instructor with Fada Dance, was asked if she would lead the specialized class.
"I said, 'No, I won't. I don't know anything about the disease. I feel really incompetent. I wouldn't think it would be a safe mix,'" recalled Gilboy. "He said, 'Here's a book and I'll see you in March.' He wouldn't take no for an answer."
Gilboy began to research how dance can improve the lives of those living with Parkinson's disease and developed a half hour pilot dance program held at the Regina Public Library Sunrise Branch. Based on the positive feedback, she ran a second class.
Classes offered free to patients
After the second class, Gilboy went out to the parking lot of the leisure centre and called the Saskatchewan Arts Board.
"I said 'Is there something we can do?' and I wrote a grant."
The grant allowed Gliboy to run an eight-month, free dance class for those with Parkinson's Disease and their caregivers.
She also trained in Toronto with David Leventhal, the New York dance instructor who created dance for Parkinson's Disease.
One lesson that stuck out to Gilboy was how a dancer's approach differs from a physiotherapist's approach.
"A participant in one of the classes said, 'Dancers are like an ambassador for the body. They come in and say you can do this, you can do this, your body can move like this.' I think that's it. There's a very positive approach rather than a, 'What's wrong and how can we fix it?'" said Gilroy.
Dawes said he agrees and hopes the program can expand to all thirteen Parkinson's disease support groups in the province.