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Dance program helps slow Parkinson’s symptoms

Thursday December 13, 2012

There’s something about the live music and trust that seems to help
Pat Ratliff

Edmonds Beacon - Parkinson’s disease is a condition of the brain that disables those affected. Its characteristics include slowness of movement, shaking, stiffness and loss of balance.

But a program held every Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center seems to help those afflicted with Parkinson’s.

The program involves dancing as a way to keep muscles moving and prevent stiffness. It features live piano music by Julan Chu and occasionally singing accompaniment by Joyce Allison.

Instructor Deborah Magallanes started the class at the Senior Center about four years ago with Nola Beeler, who suffers from Parkinson’s.

She has taught movement and dance for 20 years, and teaches “Dance for PD” classes in Port Angeles and Vashon Island, too.

The class is also a support group of sorts, allowing members to interact with others who suffer from the same disease.

“We have parties every chance we get,” Magallanes said.

Beeler said it helps with coordination, and she feels it’s helped her balance as well.

“It also gives optimism,” she said. “And I’ve always loved dancing.”

But those attending the class aren’t there for just the socializing.

“There’s something about the live music and trust that seems to help,” Magallanes said.

There’s plenty of interest; they often get 15-20 people at a class.

Judy Watson, who has been attending for about three years, feels the class helps with balance and stretching of the limbs.

“It’s very relaxing,” she said. “But also mentally challenging when we’re learning new dance movements or a series of steps.”

Peter Beidler has been taking the class for almost four years.

“It helps with my balance; it does a lot of good,” he said. “If I keep moving, I won’t stop.”

Beidler, who said he just likes music, gave a lot of credit to the “support group” atmosphere.

“This is an isolating disease,” he said. “The nature of it keeps you away from others. This helps.”

If you are interested in learning more about the group, contact Deborah Magallanes at 206-550-4908 or WudangMtn@gmail.com or call the Edmonds Senior Center at 425-774-5555.