Case Study: Dance for Parkinsons North Wales

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: National Dance Company Wales

Publication Date: 30/07/2022

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): English National Ballet

Funder(s): ACW, ENB, National Lottery Community Fund, Moondance Foundation and Pontio.


National Dance Company Wales, in partnership with English National Ballet have been delivering Dance for Parkinson's classes to people in North Wales with support from health professionals at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Classes are delivered by Welsh language dance practitioners and support the physical and social challenges faced by participants.

The Challenge

Across the UK there are more than 120,000 people currently living with Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological condition for which there is currently no cure. In Wales, that figure is estimated to be around 6,000 – with the majority aged over 50. The symptoms of Parkinson’s – which can include tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement – are caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain, lowering levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in our physical and mental health. Dance for Parkinson's classes are expressive, creative and promote feelings of freedom from the physical and social constraints of having Parkinson’s.

The Approach

The ENB model and approach is inspired by the company’s repertoire and artistic vision. Classes are artistically driven, incorporating live music, dance, rhythm and voice, promoting freedom of expression. In North Wales, classes are hosted by Coleg Cambria, Wrexham and Pontio, Bangor. The Dance for Parkinson’s classes support the outreach of the venues to ensure the arts have a central role in the wellbeing of the communities of Wales. The relationships with the venues have been key in engaging participants due to the realities of starting up new classes during a pandemic. Through working in conjunction with professionals from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the number of participants attending classes has grown, as nurses and physiotherapists who have dropped in,advocate for the programme to those they work with who live with Parkinson’s.

The Impact

Research undertaken by the University of Roehampton demonstrates that dancing, as seen within the Dance for Parkinson’s project offers the benefits below : • Aids people with Parkinson’s physically, mentally and socially • Does not help with physical development in a uniform or linear fashion, but can help with mobility in the short term, particularly when there is musical accompaniment • Gives participants the tools to increase body awareness and to increase confidence in order to use the mobility they have, but may not have had the courage to use • Provides tools to help with activities in everyday life • Gives participants the opportunity to experience different qualities and ways of moving • Can loosen up the spinal area and help with stability and posture • Can encourage a greater reach, focus and projection • Precipitates feelings of well-being, determination and achievement • Provides opportunities to create movement and stimulate the imagination

Lessons Learned

“I have absolutely loved my Dance for Parkinson’s. I have to pinch myself sometimes because it doesn't feel real! I move more freely since the sessions, I have bought my own chiffon scarf to dance to. I can wake up in the morning, have a dance session and move so much more freely” Participant, Dance for Parkinson’s classes, Coleg Cambria, Wrexham.

Website and Social Media Links

Contact Details Guy O'Donnell, Engagement Producer, National Dance Company Wales

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Tags: dance, ballet, health, wellbeing, Parkinson's disease

Dance for Parkinsons North Wales