Day 451: Dance for Parkinson's

We've been chatting with Sylvia Dewar, a member of our Dance for Parkinson's group, about the impact the project has had her.

“There is not much around for people with Parkinson’s, so when I found out about the dance class I thought I would give it a try.” says Sylvia.

“I enjoy the classes; the tutors are very exuberant and enthusiastic. They put a lot of effort into teaching and involving everyone – some people are in wheelchairs, but they are all included.

“It is so worthwhile. Mixing with other people with the same condition makes you realise that you are not the only one in the world with this. It’s not about moaning, it’s about taking part in an activity together, it brings you up."

Classes are designed especially for those with Parkinson’s and their families and carers, and online sessions are suitable for everyone. Sessions develop confidence and creativity, whilst addressing Parkinson’s specific concerns such as; balance, flexibility, coordination, gait and social isolation.

The Perth classes have attracted 20 regular participants from across Perth and Kinross, who have formed a close community based around their shared experiences of living with Parkinson’s and learning to dance, some for the first time.

“It gives me a purpose – my husband joins in too – he enjoys it. I would say to anyone thinking about coming along to try it – come along two or three times and find out how enjoyable it is. You can bring your partners or helpers. It is good to be able to take part in an activity together.”

Sylvia describes Parkinson’s as an ‘unseen disease’ the symptoms aren’t always obvious. She suffers from chronic fatigue and often struggles to sustain physical activity.

“The classes make you do something. You go along and get on your feet, you do a lot more than you would do at home. There’s a real sense of achievement afterwards – you’ve achieved your goal for the day and you look forward to next time.”

“Everyone is friendly and encouraging, we have a tea and a biscuit afterwards and we talk about our diagnosis and give each other advice. New members are welcomed, and everybody introduces themselves. I’ve made good friends in the group.” continues Sylvia.

“It’s an uplifting experience, it’s about people making the best of themselves and the situation. Nobody is pushed to do anything they can’t do but everyone is encouraged to give it a go. It’s about only doing what you feel able to do on the day, if that is just watching and enjoying the tea and chat then that’s fine.

“Before Dance for Parkinson’s I was going into my shell, the classes have helped me come out of it. My husband and friends have seen a real difference in my outlook following the classes. I’m more up for doing things.

“Living with Parkinson’s is not easy but I try not to let it get me down and I try to get up and get on with it. A positive attitude helps. I’m the only one who can help myself so I try to make sure I do by doing things like joining the classes."

The new block of Dance for Parkinson’s classes from Horsecross Arts takes place online from Monday 21 June 2021. For further information on how to get involved contact Emma Neck, Creative Learning Co-ordinator (Music) for Horsecross Arts at, tel: 07943 845097.

The Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland programme is a joint initiative managed by Dance Base, Scotland's National Centre for Dance and Scottish Ballet, Scotland's National Dance Company. This national programme is delivered in partnership with Horsecross Arts, as one of ten Dance for Parkinson’s hubs.

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