Dundee and Fife Parkinson's dancers join UK-US collaboration thanks to Shaper/Caper

The group performed for World Parkinson's Day as part of the Dance for Parkinson's initiative

People with Parkinson’s in Dundee and Fife have been sharing their joy about taking on the Jerusalema challenge with other participants from the global Dance for Parkinson's initiative.

Their feelgood version of the internet sensation, in which dancers perform to the South African hit Jerusalema, features dancers from Fife and Dundee alongside those from Aberdeen, Northern England, Exeter and Florida. 

The special Parkinson's Jerusalema challenge was coordinated by Yorkshire-based arts and wellbeing charity, Ascendance. They made this video of the challenge:

Dancing for Parkinson's

People with Parkinson’s in Dundee and Fife have enjoyed dancing since 2018, when the Dance for Parkinson's movement made its way to Dundee from Brooklyn, New York. Local sessions are led by Dundee-based dance group Shaper/Caper as part of a partnership project with Scottish Ballet and Edinburgh-based Dance Base.

And the group has been able to keep going throughout lockdown, thanks to online dance sessions. 

These virtual classes have helped people with Parkinson’s remain Together, apart and keep active while socialising.

Sarah Greene, Creative Learning Coordinator at Shaper/Caper, says:
"Shaper/Caper were asked by our participants if they could learn the Jerusalema dance. Some had seen it online and others had their grandkids show them different videos of the challenge. 
"Shaper/Caper learnt the dance and made variations on the speed and quick changes of direction to make it accessible for everyone in our Dundee and Fife classes. We were then contacted by Rachel who runs a Dance for Parkinson's class in Leeds about a combined Jerusalema video they wanted to create with other Dance for Parkinson's groups around the UK, Scotland and abroad. 
"As we had already started to learn the dance we took part in the video. We felt it was an excellent and fun thing to promote World Parkinson’s Day, which was when the video was released."

The benefits of dance

Sarah continues:
"From us starting the classes in 2018, we still have the same core group of about 18 people on the register in Dundee that religiously show up every week. So we've been really lucky in that sense and we've seen from starting the classes in Fife that the numbers have only grown and grown every week.
"People are not only enjoying the dance element and the fun that type of exercise brings to them, but it's also social interaction and we always start off the class with good news of the day so everyone gets a chance to speak to each other and share what's going on in their lives. 
“We're trying to help with the isolation and the loneliness that's happened through lockdown through our exercise classes. We found that it really has been a respite for the Parkinson's community."

Feedback from people with Parkinson's has been very positive

"This is my favourite dance. The song is so catchy, I end up spending all day singing and humming along."
- Gail

"The dance makes me so happy, I want to do it every week in class!"
- Maria

"It’s excellent to see us perform with everyone else as part of the challenge. And it really was a challenge to learn but we look so happy and great all together."
- Mark

Annie MacLeod, Director of Parkinson's UK Scotland, says:

"The Jerusalema film does a wonderful job of showing the joy that dance can bring to people with Parkinson's. People with Parkinson's tell us that dance makes a massive difference to how they feel, and this film offers those of us who don't have Parkinson's an opportunity to glimpse how much people get out of it.

"Parkinson's is a very complicated and serious condition, and it is so uplifting to see so much happiness on display as local people with Parkinson's use dance to connect with others around the UK and US. Well done to Ascendance.

"Exercise can slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms and can help manage symptoms such as sleep problems, fatigue, mood and mental health. We are extremely grateful to Shaper/Caper for these classes and look forward to their continuing support."