(October 4, 2013)

Dancing with Parkinson's brings together students and participants

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary students enrolled in Dr. Greg Butcher's Neurological Disorders class are stepping out of the classroom and onto the dance floor in partnership with the Dancing with Parkinson's class sponsored by the Parkinson's Disease Resource of LSU Health Shreveport and Centenary College.

example image alternative text
Participants move to the music at the Dancing with Parkinson's class.

The newly launched program is a dance class for those with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The class is based on the Dance for PD model started by the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, New York and is built on the idea that professionally trained dancers are movements experts whose knowledge is useful to persons with Parkinson's disease.

Students have been asked to participate in the class as well as observe the participants.

"We are watching how they are able to dance and notice symptomology," said junior Zach Stielper from Lafayette. "In the next sessions we will be paired up with someone individually to ask questions about how they have been able to cope with the disorder and get some insight into their lifestyle and how they deal with the disease."

These observations and interactions will help the students understand Parkinson's disease better and put a real face to the disorder.

Renee Chevalier '91 and Anna Kirkes '09 lead the class along with musical accompaniment by former Centenary music student Costas Dafnis. Together they integrate movement from modern and theater dance, ballet, folk dance, tap improvisation, and choreographic repertory. Dancing with Parkinson's is an aesthetic experience that uses the elements of narrative, imagery, live music, and community to develop artistry and grace while addressing such PD-specific concerns as balance, flexibility, and coordination.

Classes not only engage participants' bodies, but also create an enjoyable, social environment that emphasizes dancing rather than therapy to help combat isolation and depression. Active demonstration by professional dancers inspires participants to recapture grace, while guided improvisation fosters creativity and experimentation with movement. The classes foster a safe and creative environment for participants and their friends, family, and caregivers.

The Dancing with Parkinson's class meets the first Wednesday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon in Kilpatrick Auditorium. The class is free and open to the public for those affected by Parkinson's disease. Participants are asked to arrive early.

For more information contact Paula Houston '60 at 318-675-6142.