Dance for Parkinson's kicks off fourth year with Mark Morris Dance Group

Four years ago, people battling Parkinson's disease the Northwest were given a challenge. Get up, and get on the dance floor.

This year, world-class professional dancers will challenge them again during the fourth annual Dance for Parkinson's workshop.This program inspires those living with Parkinson's disease to explore the benefits of dance and movement with others who share some of the challenging symptoms of the disease.

Dance for Parkinson's was initiated in the Northwest by Seattle Theatre Group in partnership with EvergreenHealth and Spectrum Dance Theater. EvergreenHealth is one of the first healthcare organizations in the nation to provide this program, hosting a quarterly series of classes each year since 2009.

"The ability to help Parkinson's patients reclaim independent movement through creative dance is effective therapy not just physically, but emotionally," said Dr. Juan Aragon, Director of Medical Specialties and Medical Staff at EvergreenHealth. "Dancers leave the class glowing and truly inspired, which is beautiful to see in our patients."

This year, the program offers classes in Kirkland (Peter Kirk Community Center), Seattle (Garfield Community Center) and Des Moines (Des Moines Senior Center). Classes are free of charge, are led by professional dancers, and engage students in dance styles such as ballet, jazz, contemporary and tap. These dances will address PD-specific concerns such as balance, flexibility, coordination, isolation and depression. No dance experience is required, and the fun, uplifting classes are a welcome respite from the stress of Parkinson's on participants and caregivers.

A new eight-week fall season will kick off with a special visit from David Leventhal, former principal dancer for Mark Morris Dance Group from 1997-2011 and Program Manager for Dance for PD in New York City.

To register for the Seattle and Des Moines classes, visit Northwest Parkinson's Foundation. People interested in the Mark Morris Dance Group Dance for PD seminar on Oct. 4 can sign up now.