Dance for Parkinson’s Disease

dance for parkinson's disease and english national ballet

The Bupa Foundation and English National Ballet. Source: YouTube video excerpt.

There has been research done in the past decade on the effects of dance on the well-being of Parkinson disease patients. The English National Ballet and Dr. Sara Houston have partnered to help patients of this illness Dance for Parkinson’s disease a success.

Dance for Parkinson’s Disease

Dance for Parkinson’s offers people with Parkinson’s, their carers and family member’s an artistic and engaging dance activity within the professional environment of English National Ballet. Saturday dance sessions in Kensington offer an insight into the way a production is put together with input from Company dancers and musicians and there is the added opportunity to see English National Ballet performances.


English National Ballet is expanding its Dance for Parkinson’s programme nationally over three years creating more opportunities for regular dance and cultural activities for people with Parkinson’s


Dr. Sara Houston, Lead Investigator from the University of Roehampton

Image: Video caption.

English National Ballet commissioned Dr. Sara Houston and Ashley McGill, University of Roehampton, to research the benefits of Dance for Parkinson’s. The ground-breaking findings are collated in the report: English National Ballet: Dance for Parkinson’s, An Investigative Study. Top medical charity, the Bupa Foundation, recently awarded Dr. Sara Houston, University of Roehampton, its Vitality for Life Prize for her research on English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme.

Vitality for Life Prize 2011 – Video below

“Bridging the gap between the brain and the muscles.” – Michael Bennett, Dance Participant

Video: Courtesy of the Bupa Foundation Channel on YouTube.

“The ballet did make me urgently want to move more, and move better and hinted at how this might be possible.”

“Dancing like this is helping me to get Mr Parkinson’s out of the driving seat of my life.”

“…it is a special experience you offer people with Parkinson’s and their carers and I hope that many more people in this area will be able to experience this in the future” – Occupational Therapist, Cardiff

Article source found here.

Does dance help with Parkinson’s symptoms?

In one popular forum for Parkinson’s patients, this question was answered by one member:

biggrin Yes, dance does help with Parkinson’s symptoms!

It has been widely observed and there has been much research to support this view. One of the distinctions that should be made between the types of ‘dance’ for people with Parkinson’s is in the balance between pure physiotherapy and sheer enjoyment. These elements are not mutually exclusive.

The UK Dance for Parkinson’s network is a collection of teachers and interested parties across the UK who have benfitted in some way from the Dance for PD Programme set up 10 years ago by Mark Morris Dance Group and Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group. This Programme is widely accepted as the most advanced of its kind. Not only does the movement have benefits for the particpants but it is an enjoyable experience with real dancers in a real dance environment, live music and to one which partners and caregivers are invited. It is a real dance class. Rather than explain more here, if your interested have a look at

Some of the UK network is listed on this site and includes ballet, modern and tango based classes. It is not an exhaustive list and others teaching dance to people with Parkinson’s are invited to join in this collaboration to share experiences in order to extend the provision of dance to more Parkinson’s sufferers. The site also includes a list of the research already done in this field. The most recent is an excellent study by University of Roehampton and English National Ballet. More details are on

Dance for Parkinson’s Disease

I have a personal connection to Parkinson’s disease: my maternal grandfather died of Parkinson’s when I was 12 years old. I remember with fondness helping my mother feed him, when he could no longer feed himself.

More recently, this past December, my brother’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with the disease. She was devastated with the news.  I’m sending my brother and his mom-in-law this article; it will be of great help and encouragement.

Will you please do the same if you know someone who is dealing with this illness? Press “Share” below or send them the link to this page:  via email. Thanks for helping to get this good news out.

About Romy Macias, Senior Editor

Romy danced with the Ballet Clasico de Queretaro Fernando Jhones for 10 years having reached 1st soloist position. She presently takes on character roles and teaches at the company's junior academy. This site is a testament to her passion for classical ballet. You're invited to be part of our community and join in the joy for this amazing art form.


  1. gluten-free says:

    I have never heard of this before. I love the idea that dance can help those with Parkinsons disease. I will certainly pass this on to my girlfriend whose mother is 99 and has this dreadful disease. The only other person I knew who had it told us that when he was in the pool, he felt free from his body…I wonder how dance would have affected him.

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