This September, Pittsburgh will become the third region in Pennsylvania to launch classes based on the Dance for PD model. A collaboration between the National Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania (NPFWP), Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Yes You Can Dance!, the program will offer weekly Saturday afternoon classes at the modern studios of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, located in Pittsburgh’s famed Strip District, just 1.5 miles from the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.
With approximately eight movement-disorder specialists located throughout the city, Pittsburgh is home to a comparatively large pool of treatment resources for people with PD.
Plans for a Pittsburgh program began several years ago, and the NPFWP’s Director of Programs and Outreach David von Hofen has been laying the ground work for a program for people in the Foundation’s service area. In 2012, Dance for PD Program Director and founding teacher David Leventhal led a demonstration at the Davis Phinney Foundation’s Victory Summit in Pittsburgh, and this past spring, Mark Morris Dance Group dancers Sam Black and Rita Donahue led a community master class as part of the Dance Group’s performance residency in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre joined the team as a lead partner, engaging its teaching faculty to train and lead classes, and Yes You Can Dance!, which partners with community organizations, dance professionals, health professionals, and educators to design and provide dance opportunities for Pittsburgh residents, is helping to support the program.
“It’s a perfect example of how it takes a village to launch these classes for the long term,” Leventhal said. “But the Pittsburgh team has worked incredibly hard, and I look forward to seeing the classes develop and succeed.
“This past season has marked considerable strides in PBT’s accessibility services for performance patrons. Now, we’re taking that one step further with the “Dance for Parkinson’s” program,” said Alyssa Herzog Melby, PBT’s Director of Education and Community Engagement. “Instead of just observing dance, people with PD will be able to fully experience the art form by participating in a variety of dance styles in classes created with them in mind. With its strong medical community,
Pittsburgh is an ideal location to offer this program, and we are so proud to be selected as the host company to introduce it here.”
Barbara Farrell, executive director for National Parkinson Foundation Western PA, adds, “Exercise is essential in helping to manage Parkinson’s Disease. Dance, in particular this model for dance, provides additional benefits not found in many other types of exercise. These classes are appropriate for all people with Parkinson’s disease regardless of ability or mobility.”
For more information about the new Pittsburgh program, please click here.