UF College of Fine Arts, Shands announce therapeutic dance program for Parkinson's patients

A program specially designed for Parkinson’s disease patients titled Dance for Life launches this spring through the efforts of the University of Florida College of Fine Arts’ Center for the Arts in Healthcare, Shands Arts in Medicine and the UF Movement Disorders Center.

“Research has suggested that dancing can reduce symptoms and enhance well-being of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease,” said Jill Sonke, director of the Center for the Arts in Healthcare. “Dance for Life not only fits within the mission and goals of the program’s partners, but also highlights the benefits of dance for Parkinson’s patients.”

The Dance for Life program, co-directed by Sonke and Dr. Hubert Fernandez, a neurologist in the College of Medicine and co-director of the Movement Disorders Center, began Jan. 26 and will recur every Monday from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. until April 20, with the exception of March 9, at the UF Orthopaedic Institute’s Movement Analysis Lab at 3450 Hull Rd. Patients are encouraged to bring a family member, friend or loved one to join them during the sessions.

Artists in residence from Shands Arts in Medicine will partner with Kelly Cawthon, associate professor of dance, and UF student dancers to lead Parkinson’s disease patients in a blend of modern dance and social dance intended to reduce symptoms and enhance well being. At the end of the 12-week period, a public social event will feature an informal performance of the patients’ learned skills and a performance by Movement Disorders Center faculty and staff.

The UF School of Theatre and Dance, the , and the Digital Worlds Institute are also working with the Center for the Arts in Healthcare, the Movement Disorders Center and Shands Arts in Medicine to organize the program.

For more information contact Jennifer Valdes at 352-273-1490, or e-mail news@arts.ufl.edu

Photos by Sarah Kiewel.