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Longmont a select city for creative Parkinson’s disease dance class

By Pam Mellskog, Longmont Times-Call, www.timescall.com

LONGMONT — Shake tambourines. Dance like a gypsy.

Now do it when you are struggling with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that can cause tremors, sluggishness and rigidity.

That’s what Stephen Straub asks of his students every Wednesday afternoon during the “Movin’ with Parkinson’s” class at the Longmont Dance Theatre.

Two years ago, Straub traveled to Brooklyn, N.Y., to take a two-day training program called Dance for PD at the Mark Morris Dance Group. The National Parkinson Foundation commissioned renown ballet choreographer Morris to use dance to engage Parkinson’s patients.

Only 40 communities worldwide offer the class made available in Longmont last fall, said Kari Buchanan, spokeswoman for Denver-based Parkinson Association of the Rockies.

If you go

What: “Movin’ with Parkinson’s” dance classWhere: Longmont Dance Theatre, 1422 Nelson Road, Longmont

When: 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesdays

Cost: $5

To register: Call 303-830-1839 or emailInfo@ParkinsonRockies.org.

More information: VisitParkinsonRockies.org

“We realized that there was a great need in this area and really liked the program because of what people who took the first class in Denver last summer said,” she said. “They realized that they were getting exercise, but no one felt like they’re at a physical therapy session.”

Straub, a full-time English major at the University of Colorado at Boulder, taps his Morris training and professional modern dance background to teach the class.

“My first ballet teacher, who taught me when I was a child living in upstate New York, got Parkinson’s disease. This is kind of my way of giving back,” he said.

The class begins with participants sitting on chairs in a circle to warm up with gentle movements to “Canon in D,” the Pachelbel piece so many couples select as a wedding prelude.

Straub often asks participants to attach a class member’s name to each movement as a memory game and social icebreaker. Gradually, he focuses more on breath, before moving into short lessons in coordinating movement. Read the rest of the article.

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