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Dance classes for Parkinson's sufferers

Thursday February 18, 2010

Claire Fox

Wimbleton Guardian - A former teacher with the English National Ballet has turned her attention to dance classes for people suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Joanne Duff spent years working in dance education for companies such as the Royal Opera House, before deciding to use her experience to help those suffering from the disease.

She said: "My mum had Parkinson's for many years and that prompted me to get involved with this work.

"It brings together my professional and personal lives in a way that I had not ever really considered when working in ballet companies throughout my career."

Ms Duff attended a workshop last autumn run by American specialists in the area, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and said it was like a light just came on.

She now teaches sufferers at all stages of the disease in classes accompanied by live music.

She said: "We have people come in wheelchairs and also those in the early stages who can walk to the classes.

"Parkinson's disease can make people feel isolated and want to stay at home. I am so happy that our dance class makes them want to come out every Wednesday, enjoy being together and have fun.

"People might not automatically pair dance with Parkinson's disease, but learned movement are particularly useful for people with Parkinson's and working with live music, you get a very personal response."

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