Center for Arts in Medicine

Community Engagement

Dance for Life: Movement Program for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Dance for Life is a free weekly dance class for people with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and their significant others. The program is designed to help people with PD improve their quality of life through enhanced overall physical well-being, social interaction, creative expression, and targeted improvements in balance, strength, and mobility. The program is led by professional and student dancers from the University of Florida School of Theatre and Dance and UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine, and combines elements of modern dance, ballet and social dance.

Program Structure: The Dance for Life program is offered on an ongoing weekly basis. Each semester concludes with a final performance or social event, and is open to people with PD and their significant others. The program is free and requires no prior dance experience. New participants are welcome to join at any time.

Time: Monday 1:00-2:15pm and Wednesday 2:00-3:00pm.  You may attend one or two times per week.

Location: Monday: Room G-11 of the McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion on the UF Campus (Museum Road, adjacent to the UF Welcome Center and Bookstore)

Wednesday: Multipurpose Room of the Senior Recreation Center, 5701 NW 34th St, Gainesville, FL.

Parking: Handicapped parking is available in numerous locations around the building, and metered parking is available in the Reitz Union parking lot. Loading Dock parking is also available for individuals needing immediate proximity to the building.

Contact person: Whitney Wilson, 352.733.0880

Program Goals:

  • To help people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders achieve improvements in balance, mobility, coordination, range of motion, posture, quickness, and kinetic awareness;
  • To reduce depression, anxiety, isolation, fatigue, pain, and constipation;
  • To enhance quality of life by providing regular social interaction with friends and family members;
  • To increase motivation and self-confidence through goal-setting and periodic “performance”;
  • To encourage engagement in dance as a lifestyle change by including significant others in weekly classes; and
  • To articulate the benefits of dance for Parkinson’s patients through research.

Program Director: Jill Sonke

Instructors: Whitney Wilson, Jill Sonke, and students from the Center for the Arts in Medicine and UF School of Theatre and Dance

Contributing Departments: The UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, Center for the Arts in Medicine, Shands Arts in Medicine, and the UF School of Theatre and Dance.

Dance for Life in the News:

Click here to learn about the Dance for Life Study.

Click here to learn about the semi-annual Dance for PD Teacher Training program.

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