Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 26th 2016 Contents A26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Capitalize on your strengths
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Dance for PD
can be quite
If you pictured a dancer, you probably
wouldn t imagine someone with Parkinson s
Worldwide, there are ten million people with
the progressive movement disorder, and they
struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor bal-
But over the past 15 years or so, a few thousand
in the US have taken dance classes that are part
of a programme called Dance for PD. It began
in Brooklyn and has spread throughout the coun-
try and around the world.
It has also attracted the attention of scientists
interested in the ways dance might ease symp-
The programme in Venice, California, is in its
fifth year. One recent afternoon, Broadway Baby
blasted from the sound system as nearly two
dozen people tried to imitate the movements of
instructor Linda Berghoff.
The students are people with Parkinson s and
their spouses or caregivers. For the moment,
everyone was seated, but with bodies pulled
upright, arms stretched and fists pumping in
time to the music.
It was a challenging routine, keeping a one-
two beat with one arm, and a three-part rhythm
with the other. Berghoff shouted encouragement
over the music.
She s lean and fit and looks younger than her
65 years. Though never a professional dancer,
she s danced all her life---even after her own
diagnosis of Parkinson s disease ten years ago.
"When I was diagnosed, the thought that I
would no longer dance again terrified me," she
tells Shots. "I d be stripped of the thing I love
The diagnosis was also a blow to Laura Karlin,
a long-time friend who describes Berghoff as
her second mother.
Karlin was looking for something she could
do to support her friend. She asked Berghoff,
"Do you want to do yoga together? Do you want
to dance together? Do you want to start a dance
The dance class was the winner. And a rea-
sonable choice, considering that Karlin is the
artistic director of the Invertigo Dance Theatre,
which has a performing company and also offers
Invertigo s dance class tailored to people with
Parkinson s disease began in 2011; the company
now sponsors five such courses around the LA
And each one is a real dance class, Karlin says.
"We don t dumb it down. I believe very much
in making this a really joyful and challenging
experience," she says. "But it has to be both
challenging and kind of satisfying."
Karlin learned what she needed to know to
start her Parkinson s programme at the Mark
Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, where Dance
for PD began about 15 years ago.
David Leventhal is the director of the Mark
Morris program. At the beginning, he says, it
was trial and error because "there s no one type
of Parkinson s, no one set of symptoms."
"There s an artistic quality," he says, "where
we re hoping people are able to say something
with those gestures." This is particularly relevant
to people with Parkinson s, who start to lose
their expressive ability and "feel themselves pull
away from who they thought they were."
The programme at the Mark Morris Dance
Center began as a partnership with the Brooklyn
Parkinson Group. But for the past eight years,
Mark Morris instructors have been training other
dance companies---like LA s Invertigo Dance The-
atre---to conduct classes of their own.
There are now programmes in 40 states and
13 other countries.
"It s such a natural, intuitive idea that dance
should be a good thing for Parkinson s, that peo-
ple have just gone ahead and done it" without
scientific verification that it actually helps, says
Dr Pietro Mazzoni.
He teaches neurology at Columbia University
Medical Center and heads the Motor Performance
Laboratory there. (NPR)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Dance returns joy of movement
to Parkinson's patients
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