English National Ballet celebrates 10 years of Dance for Parkinson’s
English National Ballet is celebrating over 10 years of its highly successful Dance for Parkinson’s program. English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s was a model for ground-breaking research published by Dr. Sara Houston from Roehampton University. It is also part of a collaboration with King’s College London and UCL on one of the world’s largest research studies addressing the impact and scalability of arts interventions on physical and mental health.
Inspired by Company repertoire, the program provides high quality dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s, their family, friends, and carers. Since its launch in 2010, Dance for Parkinson’s has reached more than 5,000 people through classes held at English National Ballet’s studios, collaboration with five hub partners across the UK, and the creation of a national online community with sessions provided over Zoom. It has also inspired numerous other dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s.
Anniversary celebrations were originally planned for 2020, but were postponed due to the pandemic. They include the premiere of Momenta, a specially commissioned film co-created by Dance for Parkinson’s class participants and professional artists which was released on English National Ballet’s website. In addition, an exhibition of personal stories, creative research collaborations and portrait photography has opened at English National Ballet’s east London home, the Mulryan Centre for Dance, with public viewing available from now until late February 2022.
Fleur Derbyshire Fox, English National Ballet’s Engagement Director, said, “I am extremely proud of English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s program and feel continually inspired by the creativity of our participants with lived experience, the passion of our artists, the care given by our volunteers and staff and the commitment of our delivery hub partners. Our classes are expressive, creative and promote feelings of freedom from the physical and social constraints of having Parkinson’s. As we celebrate this anniversary, we can take a moment to reflect on the positive impact the program has had, and I look forward to seeing these benefits brought to more people in the future.”
On their experience of the classes, one class participant said, “I like the community feeling – this is a group of people who understand the problems and limitations, but also the possibilities. Those limitations might be physical, but we’ve learned to instinctively move with each other – we’re connected, and we understand one another.”
Another participant added,“It’s life enhancing. When I’m here I don’t feel anyone is looking at me, I feel accepted. The live music is a joy. I like it very much.”
English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s is a national program which extends opportunities for people with Parkinson’s across the UK to access regular dance and cultural activities, and to engage with English National Ballet. Their partners consist of Royal Albert Hall, DanceEast, Merseyside Dance Initiative (MDI), Oxford City Council and National Dance Company Wales. To find out more, visit: ballet.org.uk/dance-for-parkinsons