THERE was a carnival atmosphere at the Dance for Parkinson’s Australia class on Monday afternoon in Coffs Harbour as participants grooved to timeless classics at the Julie Ross Dance Studio on Isles Drive.
Dance for Parkinson’s invites people with Parkinson’s to experience the joys and benefits of dance while creatively addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skill, depression and physical confidence.
The program’s fundamental working principle is that professionally-trained dancers are movement experts whose knowledge about balance, sequencing, rhythm and aesthetic awareness is useful to persons with Parkinson’s.
In class, teaching artists integrate movement from modern, ballet, tap, folk and social dancing, and choreographic repertory to engage participants’ minds and bodies and create an enjoyable, social environment for artistic exploration.
Dance Artist Teachers Suzanne McCarty and Julie Ross create a vibrant environment that just makes you want to dance.
The class’s favourite song is ’Tequila’ by The Champs where everyone throws their arms in the air and laughs when they hear that iconic call of ‘Tequila’.
Different songs have different purposes, after the invigorating ‘Tequila’ song, Suzanne took the class through a slow movement dance that resembled a moving meditation or Tai Chi routine.
The class finished off with a Mexican wave of smiles where each person gave a huge smile to the person sitting next to them and the gratuitous gesture flowed around the circle like a Mexican wave.
Distance was not a problem for this happiness tonic as Elizabeth Hawkin from Toormina passed the smile down the Zoom lens to Evelyn Shinn who participated from her home in Grafton.
Elizabeth, who is 89-years-old, explained to News Of The Area the personal benefits from the weekly class,
“It’s the highlight of my week.
“I love the music and I’ve always loved dancing.
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago and my Doctor recommended dance so I’ve been coming to this class now for two years.
“It’s really helped me, it inspires me, do you know I’m ninety in July?” she laughed.
“There’s a wonderful Camaraderie here, a strong bond, we are all on the same page because we all have the same thing (Parkinson’s),” said Elizabeth.
Dance for Parkinson’s Australia rejuvenated teacher Suzanne McCarty’s dance career.
“I was a professional dancer but then I stopped abruptly.
“Then when myself and Julie Ross went to Melbourne to attend the Dance for Parkinson’s Australia teacher training it reignited my passion for Ballet and I am loving teaching again, the movement and course is very powerful on multiple levels.
“Dance for Parkinson’s started in the Mark Morris Dance company in New York and as the results based benefits became more visible it kept growing and spread across the world, including Australia.
“Dancing to music stimulates the brain, all of your body parts and senses are coordinating together to the sound of the music, that’s what makes it so powerful,“ said Suzanne.
“We encourage anyone to this class who would benefit from it, not only those with Parkinsons, we invite anyone with a neurological condition or anyone who would benefit from a seated dance class, dance is the hidden language of the soul,” she said.
For more details, contact the Julie Ross Dance Studio on 6651 9419.
By David WIGLEY