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Join Us For Dance

Celebrities competing in Dancing with the Stars are not the only ones mastering the rumba and the samba these days. People with Parkinson’s disease and their partners have also caught the dance fever and are participating in a new ballroom dancing class offered this spring by the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

The class has mastered some of the basic steps that are then put together in creative sequences as the couples glide across the ballroom floor. It is amazing how creatively the dancers come together with different combinations of box steps, turning box steps, rock steps, and underarm turns, to name a few.

“Add some flavor to it” instructor Kathleen Henry calls out in attempts to encourage the dancers to put personal flare into it. “But I don’t even have the right ingredients” quips back one of the students, with a smile from ear to ear.

In this class, all of the dancers do have the right ingredients. They have enthusiasm, positive attitudes, a sense of spirit and an admiral ability to let it all go and give it their best........and, of course, a terrific sense of humor! No one here expects to be mistaken for Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire, not yet anyway. All of the moves are modified to meet the individual abilities of each of the students. For instance, there are lots of underarm turns, spinning couples embraced arm in arm, some romantically gazing into the eyes of their spouse of sixty years, some dancing and laughing with new found friends from class. There haven’t been any dramatic dips, lifts or catches quite yet, at least not any intentional ones. When it comes to a dance class for people with Parkinson’s disease, everyone involved knows “hit the dance floor “ can have a double meaning, but it certainly doesn’t stop anyone from challenging themselves to move to the rhythm of the music.

After all, music makes people want to move. Currently there are several studies researching the power of music in helping people with Parkinson’s disease move. According to Enrico Fazzini , MD, a neurologist at New York University Medical Center, “Music helps reconnect PD patients to what PD takes away: the ability to move automatically.” In Brooklyn New York, The Mark Morris Dance Group is in its sixth year of providing weekly-customized dance workshops for people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers through a partnership with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group. Here, faculty member Misty Owens is writing a master’s thesis on dance therapy and Parkinson’s. Meanwhile, back at the class here in the Valley, students are perfecting the foxtrot, merengue, electric slide and assorted “free styles”. We didn’t claim to stick with ballroom dancing, we go wherever the music takes us or moves us. Seated or standing, in one place or across the dance floor, walker or no walker. And as a group, who knows where it might take us? You might be pleasantly surprised to happen upon a performance at an upcoming Mo Udall symposium.

Special thank you to the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church located at 3641 N. 56th Street for the donated use of their beautiful gymnasium and to instructor Kathleen Henry for all of the extra preparation time and “flavor”. For more information, call 602.406.6903.

“Rebound Physical Therapy is excited to offer an innovative new program designed for patients with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous condition affecting ran cells that produce a chemical aiding in neurotransmission. Working in conjunction with our highly skilled physical therapists is program designer and consultant, Kathleen Henry, a cross discipline dance kinesiologist and Parkinson’s disease movement specialist. Rebound takes pride in being in the forefront of research and application, assuring the highest level of care in this setting. A wide array of insurance plans are accepted, including Medicare. We also offer out of network and cash discounts.”

Rebound Physical Therapy has two convenient locations: North Scottsdale at Pinnacle Peak and Pima 480-502-4324 or our Carefree office at Westland and Scottsdale Roads 480-595-2824.