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By Carlene Cobb
“If I can help one person feel better one day of the week, then I have succeeded,” said Kate Honea, principal dancer, assistant ballet mistress and therapeutic dance instructor for The Sarasota Ballet.
When Honea’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Honea began researching what she could do to help. She discovered the multiple benefits of therapeutic dance for people with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects about one million Americans today.
While the disease has no known cure, experts name exercise as one of the most effective means to delay the progression of the disease. According to studies at the Stanford Neuroscience Center, dance is particularly effective in engaging motor skills that affect gait, balance and coordination as well as the cognitive domains that are specifically affected by PD.
Honea trained with the Mark Morris Company which developed the therapeutic dance program for people with PD. It is now being taught by more than 600 teachers around the world. Honea uses both seated and standing routines and by the end of the class, “every muscle is warmed up.”
Honea is the catalyst behind the recent partnership of The Sarasota Ballet and Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s. “This partnership has made it possible for us to offer Dancing through Parkinson’s in this area; we are grateful for the support, generosity and commitment of the internationally acclaimed Sarasota Ballet,” said Neuro Challenge CEO Robyn Faucy-Washington.
A Dancing Through Parkinson’s class is provided in Pinellas County through a partnership between Neuro Challenge and the City of St. Petersburg. Cynthia Montesino Alicea, retired educator and founder of Mindful Moves, LLC, trained with Mark Morris Dance Company’s therapeutic dance program for people with PD and their caregivers. Last year, her class participated in a world-wide project by submitting a video showing the class dancing to their own choreography based on the graceful movements of cranes.
The video was shown at the Parkinson’s International Conference. To see the video, visit the online blog https://mindfulmovesllc.com/photos-and-videos.html. The Dancing through Parkinson’s class in St. Petersburg meets on Tuesdays from 10:45 a.m. until noon at the Azalea Recreation Center.” For more information and to RSVP for this class, call 941-926-6413.
To observe and participate in a sample Dancing through Parkinson’s class with The Sarasota Ballet, visit the Interactive Demonstration Area of the 2020 Parkinson’s EXPO on Saturday, February 29, at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto, FL, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Boxing, Cycling and other activities designed for people with PD will also be available for attendees to try out.
1,500 guests from around Florida and beyond are expected to attend the EXPO, now in its third year. With the high-caliber roster of nationally recognized PD experts that Neuro Challenge brings together each year, the EXPO has been the largest educational forum of its kind in the USA since it began.
“Our goal is for each attendee to take away from the EXPO information they can apply right away to improve the quality of their life,” said Faucy-Washington. “Education is the key to living well with Parkinson’s.”
The EXPO is free and open to the public. It includes a boxed lunch, coffee and water. Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s is dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with the disease and their caregivers. For more information on speakers, topics and to register, please visit the website: NeuroChallenge.org. Registration is required. For more information, call (941) 926-6413.