Celebrating International Dance Day

To mark International Dance Day on 29 April, we spoke to National Dance Company Wales about how they're helping the Welsh Parkinson's community take to the floor.

Dancing is a great way to start being active when you live with Parkinson's. It can improve your balance, coordination, posture, core strength, gait and mental wellbeing. It's also fun and social. And did you know you can do it sitting down or standing up?

Maris is an engagement producer and Yvette is a Dance for Parkinson's instructor at National Dance Company (NDC) Wales. They recently talked to us about their experiences helping the Parkinson's community enjoy dance.

Maris says:

"NDC Wales began delivering Dance for Parkinson's classes in 2015. Our classes have grown in popularity and we now offer weekly classes in Cardiff, Bangor, Wrexham and Porthcawl.

"We know how important dance is for helping people living with Parkinson's. It can have a hugely positive impact on a person's physical and mental wellbeing. The benefits include better balance and coordination, as well as improving a person's confidence to move in new ways.

"The classes encourage feelings of inclusion, provide a space for social interaction and promote a sense of community that is energising, positive, inclusive and motivating."

Yvette says:

"I always love seeing how people are transformed by the dance sessions, whether it's physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. It's also great to see people grow in confidence when they get used to the steps. You often see improvements, such as people standing taller and with better posture.   

"While the exercises are created to target specific Parkinson's symptoms, we also like to focus on artistry, imagery, music and expression of dance. It's also great to see how welcoming our participants are with newcomers. You can see how the common experience of living with Parkinson's unites the group.

"We always encourage people to take part in the class as they can often do more than they think. The sessions can also help reduce social isolation and combat loneliness, and the weekly class gives everyone something to look forward to.

"We welcome partners, carers and friends to join in as we want everyone to enjoy dance as a shared experience that is more than just about living with Parkinson's, or having a connection to the condition.

"I would absolutely recommend dance for people with Parkinson's. Not just because it's proven to help manage symptoms, but also because using live music means you can modify the musical rhythms, melodies and tempos. You don't have to be a dancer to take part so we encourage everyone to give it a try."

Find out more about Dance for Parkinson's on the National Dance Company Wales website.

Find a dance class near you

Dance groups across the UK are offering Parkinson's-friendly sessions. Find your nearest class.