OKC Ballet Helps Parkinson’s Patients Heal Through Dance
OKLAHOMA CITY - An unconventional program for Parkinson's patients is giving some of them a lot of hope. Dance for Parkinson's meets twice a week at the Oklahoma City Ballet, helping participants in more ways than one.
Dance for Parkinson’s is just one of many outreach programs at the OKC Ballet, but organizers do not want you to think of it as therapy. They call it a community.
With each move to the music, participants are working their brains and their bodies. Anne Calvert, who was diagnosed two years ago, has made an effort to attend every class for the past year and a half.
“Have a bad morning and come here, make myself get here, and then it just starts melting away,” Calvert reflected.
Modeled after the national Dance for PD program, the local version is funded by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, serving more than 100 Parkinson's patients since it started two years ago.
“Dancing is part of the human experience,” said OKC Ballet outreach coordinator Stephanie Pitts. “We, as children, come out and dance freely with no judgment, and this is a place to kind of go back to that.”
Pitts said she never realized how much of an impact the art could have on others, until she met this group. Researchers say exercises like dance can actually combat some effects of the illness, even beyond the studio.
“They can always go back on what they’ve been doing in class,” said Pitts, “whether it’s a rhythm, whether it’s a type of movement, and sometimes they can actually get themselves moving again.”
Participants say the moral support of this group might help even more.
“We also encourage each other,” said Calvert, “and that’s helpful because sometimes you get discouraged, and we share information about things.”
Most importantly, they walk away from each class standing tall.
Dance for Parkinson’s is free to anyone with movement challenges. The class is every Monday and Thursday from 12:45-1:45, starting June 10.