Cara Murez, HealthDay

July 20, 2023

THURSDAY, July 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Every week, a group of dancers meets in Chicago. Together, they follow a series of movements under the guidance of an instructor.

They flex, and reach, and point as Carly Liegel, community engagement program coordinator for the Joffrey Ballet, leads them through a series of movements with their arms and then their legs.

But these aren't professionals, and they aren't your average dancers.

Each one has Parkinson's disease, a progressive brain disorder with no known cure that can cause uncontrollable movements and balance issues.

In conjunction with Northwestern Medicine, the Joffrey Ballet started offering "Dancing with Parkinson's" this summer, exploring ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance, as well as a little improvisation, to tunes played live by a pianist.

The five-week program has had a surge of interest, so much so that Northwestern is planning another session.

"We've never had a program that filled up as quickly as this one in the 10 years that I've been here," said Dr. Danny Bega, movement disorders specialist at Northwestern.

Ginger Hall, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease two years ago, takes the classes.

She knows it's important to stay active to manage her symptoms.

"I do believe that the magic bullet for Parkinson's is exercise. Even though you can't gain what you've lost, you can keep Parkinson's at bay," Hall said in a Northwestern news release. "Post-COVID, this program reminds me of how important community is, so, I'll come back to every class because they're good people and it's fun to be out with a group."

Northwestern has long been interested in dance interventions for Parkinson's patients, Bega said.

When the Joffrey Ballet reached out to offer this collaboration, the doctors were very excited about the opportunity, Bega said.

Read the full article here.