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Aug 31, 2020

Dance for Parkinson’s Idaho: Using the Power of Dance & Music



Lauren Berry | MAG Recommends | View Counts (122) | Return|

Dance for Parkinson's Idaho is a local non-profit organization that brings dance, music, movement, artistry, and grace to the Treasure Valley Parkinson's community.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Former professional ballet dancer and School Director of Eagle Performing Arts Center and Idaho Regional Ballet, Elizabeth (Liz) Keller, started Idaho’s Dance for PD chapter, Dance for Parkinson’s Idaho. Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that causes areas of the brain that control movement to no longer function correctly, which reduces mobility and can lead to uncontrolled tremors. One way to bypass body tremors and freezes in the brain is through dance “by creating new neural pathways” said Keller.

Creating The Idaho Chapter; Dance For Parkinson’s Idaho

While dancing in Boise with the Trey McIntyre Project in 2014, Keller took the lead on teaching Dance for Parkinson’s classes in every city TMP toured that season. TMP, Dance for PD and Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation (Keller is also on the Board of Directors for NWPF) collaborated to bring the power of dance to a PD communities throughout the country. During the tour season, Keller witnessed fascinating results.

“After my first class, and seeing how much sharing my passion for dance and the combination of music and movement was able to help people with Parkinson’s, I knew I had to start a program in Boise!,” said Keller.

After wrapping up touring all over the country, Keller decided it was time to bring Dance For Parkinson’s to Idaho. In the fall of 2014, Dance for Parkinson’s Idaho started with two Teaching Artists (Keller and Nathan Powell) and one musician (Juli Draney).

DFPI now has six teachers trained in the “Dance for PD” method and two wonderful musicians and two locations. Classes are every Monday in both Eagle at Eagle Performing Arts Center and in Boise at Ballet Idaho. Ballet Idaho has been a community sponsor since the beginning.

Classes Are Free

Classes are free to persons with Parkinson’s, their families, friends and caregivers.

The Magic Of Music And Movement

“It’s not just the music or the movement but the powerful combination of the two together that help to bypass the part of the brain that is affected by PD. Classes use rhythm, imagery and community to help dancers develop artistry and live more gracefully with PD.

The Life-Changing Effects of Dance And Music; Even Just For One Hour

While the effects of dancing can last a couple of days, depending on the person, it is only a temporary solution to maintaining the disease. As the week goes on, slowly, functions start to deteriorate again.

Going to class turns the mindset of being ‘someone with Parkinson’s disease’ into a ‘dance student’, which can be the highlight of someone’s day and even week.

“I’ve had my students say that for that one hour a week, they feel free of Parkinson’s,” said Keller.

By bringing dance, music, movement, artistry, and grace to the local Parkinson’s community in Idaho, Dance for Parkinson’s Idaho has allowed those suffering from Parkinson’s, the ability to escape their symptoms for an hour a week.

With live music and the support of the community, students work on skills to address balance, flexibility, coordination, and gait while enjoying the company of others around them who are on a similar journey through life with Parkinson’s.

Dance With Parkinson’s During COVID-19

Realizing the importance of this program to her dancers, Liz has continued to provide free classes via online streaming. Participants can join classes from the safety of their own homes and still benefit from the work and socialize with their classmates virtually.

It’s truly inspiring to hear and see how Dance for Parkinson’s Idaho allows students to engage their minds and bodies, creating an enjoyable, social environment for artistic exploration.

Teaching Artists are all trained in the Dance for PD® method. Learn more about the national movement here:

Dance for Parkinson's

How To Support Dance For Parkinson’s Idaho or Join A Free Class

To learn more ways you can donate to Dance for Parkinson’s Idaho or Sign Up For A Free Class:

Dance for Parkinson's Idaho

Dance in Parkinson's Idaho, Using the Power of Dance & Music
Dance in Parkinson's Idaho, Using the Power of Dance & Music
Dance in Parkinson's Idaho, Using the Power of Dance & Music

Photo Credit: Dance for PD Website

Teaching Artists are all trained in the Dance for PD® method.

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