Category: Dance / movement

“Exercise That’s Tailored and Routine Can Help Patients at All Disease Stages”, Therapist Says…

Michael Braitsch, a kinesiology professor and board-licensed doctor of physical therapy, states that:

Parkinson’s motor symptoms mimic normal aging in many ways — only they’re sped up and intensified.  Because each patient experiences Parkinson’s uniquely, tailored and one-on-one routines are best. Still, he said, group programs with skilled leaders are also worthwhile, fostering consistency, motivation, performance, community, camaraderie, support and idea sharing.

“Depression and isolation  starts a negative feedback loop. So, that’s where a tribe helps,” said Braitsch. …Strength in numbers means we all do better together.”

In a GREAT online post from Parkinson’s News Today, the gist of the entire article mirrors what our Parkinson’s Fitness philosophy has stated and reinforced since we began in 2013! We encourage you to click this link and read the article. You will find many similarities to what we consistently emphasize and encourage! Click below for the article:



“Strategy without execution
is the slowest route to victory,
and tactics without strategy
is the noise before defeat.”
―Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.

When your strategy for holding Parkinson’s symptoms at bay is – “I’ll plan for exercise, education, and socialization with others to manage my Parkinson’s” – but then none of it is put into action, Parkinson’s gains another life-robbing victory in the war.

The Parkinson’s Fitness team is here to provide BOTH the strategies and the ways to execute them that fit YOUR abilities! We have a whole variety of classes and programs that address the many challenges Parkinson’s symptoms create. TRY ANY OR ALL OF THEM! Click here for days, times and locations.



Diana Daly, bottom row, 4th from left
Elaine Boone, top row, 3rd from right
Devera Ehrenberg, center row, far right

Parkinson’s Fitness Balance in Motion instructor Dianna Daly ( was recently invited by Linda Tickle-Degnen, PhD, OT, FQOTA and professor of the OT Department at Tufts University to participate as one of their guest faculty-staff participants at a university-sponsored Dance for Healthy Aging with Parkinson’s Disease workshop. The goal of the workshop was teaching Tufts OT students how to interact directly and collaboratively with people with Parkinson’s. To help accomplish the goal, Dianna invited two of her local Parkinson’s Fitness class members to accompany her to the event.

Showcasing the incredibly successful work in the field of dance to augment medical technologies used in combatting the progressively debilitating nature of Parkinson’s were David Leventhal, Program Director and founding teacher of the nationally acclaimed Dance for PD program, a nonprofit collaboration of MMDG and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group that leads dance classes around the world (, and Pamela Quinn, professional dancer and Parkinson’s consultant for people with Parkinson’s, who has lived with her Parkinson’s diagnosis for over 20 years ( Pam’s personal experience of dance and Parkinson’s gives her a unique perspective from which to analyze physical function, and to imagine creative solutions to the problems posed by Parkinson’s.

According to Quinn, “Dance by its very nature contributes to everyday health: working and stretching muscles leads to strength and flexibility; learning and remembering movement tones the brain; touch and partnering provide social contact, and creative context promotes expression and use of the imagination. People of any age, especially the elderly, need movement, fun, challenge, and connection. This workshop allowed participants to experience all those things first hand and helped them understand how to create such an environment for others as well.”

Quoting Dianna after the workshop experience: “It was great to be there alongside Devera and Elaine to represent our Parkinson’s Fitness community.” 

Elaine Boone, one of Dianna’s class members, offers her experience of attending the event:
I really enjoy going to anything that will give me support and, even more, ways to keep me moving. The dance session was very uplifting. Pam and David made the exercises fun and us all so much good advice. Everyone with Parkinson’s should watch Pam’s videos. As someone with Parkinson’s herself, she has discovered so many different moves that can keep us all going. And I enjoyed working with the students. The more they can see people with Parkinson’s and what symptoms we have and what we can do to slow the progression down, the better for them.

Without programs and the wonderful people who give of their time, we would be lost. We couldn’t do it without you all, and thank you for inviting me to the sessions. Please keep up your wonderful work!”

Devera Ehrenberg, another member in Dianna’s classes, shares her positive experience:
“The Dance for Health Aging day was full of wonderful exercises we created – starting with the introduction.  Bach (or Mozart) filled the room and we moved to the music, creating our own dance, and what followed were flowing movements to other ideas we created. We broke into small groups. The one I was in created paintings – Jackson Pollock throwing paint on a canvas on the floor, or Seurat, lots of dots, etc., as other groups created movements for their ideas.  Such wonderful, freeing movements! My Parkinson’s faded away and that lasted , for me, into the next day. I spent the next morning inventing dance movements! I loved it!  Thanks for this opportunity.”

Something to remember: Pamela Quinn will join us as one of our presenters during the next Parkinson’s Fitness educational symposium on the North Shore in September. Be sure to watch for all the exciting details as we post them during the next couple of months!



In the May 8, 2017 online issue of Parkinson’s News Today, a “Facts You May Not Know About Parkinson’s” article includes the following information – interesting reading!

The types of exercise you choose will depend, to some degree, on the severity of your Parkinson’s disease and your overall health. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, the exercises should be varied and incorporate changing directions through unplanned movement, cardiovascular exercise, balance, strength training and rhythmical exercises.

Unplanned and Random Movement
The exercises listed require the person to change tempo and direction regularly. These will challenge a person mentally as well as physically as they require concentration to perform.
• Walking, hiking or jogging
• Racket sports such as badminton, table tennis, squash
• Yoga or Tai Chi
• Outdoor cycling
• Dancing
• Aerobic classes
• Marching with swinging arms
• Swimming in different strokes

Planned and Repeated Movement
These exercises are generally repeated movements that require balance. They can be performed while doing something that challenges a person mentally, such as watching a quiz show or the news, throwing and catching balls, singing, or problem-solving.
• Cycling on a static bike
• Weightlifting using light weights
• Swimming laps in the same stroke
• Slow walking on a treadmill


People who attend instructor Dianna Daly’s Balance in Motion classes on Monday’s, Tuesday’s,Thursday’s or Friday’s regularly confirm the benefits of creating fluid and focused all-over body movements to improve balance and strength. Dianna’s professional dance background, her Parkinson’s training, and her welcoming manner make her a creative, fun, and popular class instructor.  (click here for class times and locations)

But wait! There’s more to read about the benefits of dance movement!

In the following video from a post in, dance teacher Pam Kuntz talks about her dance class that’s aimed at people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Kuntz talks with two of her clients about the benefits of the dance class and how being able to move freely makes them feel. As well as the physical and health benefits, the attendees also talk about how great it is to get out and socialize and meet other people who have Parkinson’s disease or other neurological diseases. Once into the site, click on the second picture down and enjoy both the content and the humor they share with one another!




Melody, rhythm, and improvised interpretations!

Our hands and fingers mimicked fireworks exploding all around us…and then turned into raindrops trickling down and creating puddles. Our arms became soaring bird wings…and then moved our bodies as if part of a swim team practicing a variety of strokes. We formed the angles created by a city skyline…and then swayed side to side and in circles as if trees blown by storm winds. We stood and moved randomly about the room…as if on a crowded city sidewalk or inching along in a hallway toward a jam-packed sporting event. We’d move to a verbal cue however we interpreted it, and then quickly transform into something else suggested by the leader. It was as much a session in cognitive training as it was being physically involved.

Improvisation – invention, making it up as you go along, creativeness, imagination.

Under the guidance of our guest, Wake Forest University Associate Professor of Dance Christina Soriano, who visited with us on June 6th from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, our instructors had the benefit of her years of research into the effect of improvised movement on neurological conditions. Among a wide-ranging multitude of credits, she has served as a guest presenter at the Davis Phinney Foundation, and as a panelist at the 2013 World Parkinson Congress on the subject of “Creativity and Parkinson’s Disease.

(visit her web site:

Once again, we’re grateful to Tracy Valletti, Community Relations Coordinator at CareOne in Peabody, for arranging to have us gather in space at their facility on Route 114 across from the North Shore Shopping Mall. It was fun having Tracy join us during the training session…and she also provided refreshments for all of us to enjoy afterward.

We’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned with present and future members of both our exercise and movement classes! As you move toward making a decision to visit any of our classes (see the Class Locations page on the web site), let your home become a make-shift dance studio! Put on some music and just let yourself move around in whatever ways provide you with some moments of feeling free and happy! Take those definitions for the word “improvisation” to heart and try it!

Upcoming Idea Exchange About Movement and Dance…

Our Parkinson’s Fitness team is excited about having Associate Professor of Dance, Christina Soriano, from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina visit with us on June 6th for an exchange of ideas regarding the connection between the arts and various neurodegenerative diseases.

Professor Soriano has extensive teaching and training backgrounds. She has served as a guest presenter at the Davis Phinney Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina and as a panelist at the 2013 World Parkinson Congress on the subject of “Creativity and Parkinson’s Disease”. She has been a featured speaker at the Arts in Medicine Summit at the University of North Carolina Asheville, has taught workshops with arts practitioners in England, and has participated in the LEAD  Conference (Leadership Exchange in Arts & Disabilities), held in Washington DC.

A symposium titled “Aging Re-Imagined” was held March 17 and 18 this year. Chaired by Professor Soriano, it brought together more than 300 faculty, staff, students and members of the Winston-Salem community to discuss the topic of aging. Leading scholars, artists, medical professionals and researchers shared insight on how people age and how society thinks and feels about aging. The event featured national speakers and highlighted research being conducted by Wake Forest faculty.

The following summarization describes Professor Soriano’s philosophy about improvisational movement:

What does improvisational dance look like and why do I value it? The only constant in our lives is change. As we improvise, we discover who we are and what we care about. Movement habits form, and then they are disrupted. For older adults, the ability to navigate changes in routine can be more complicated. My improvisational dance strategies in class enable students to self-generate functional and expressive movement, with no worries about doing it “wrong.” Through a series of often rapidly delivered exercises that challenge cognition as much as physical function, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s patients and undergraduates alike are encouraged to create their personal movement universes. Their bodies make shapes, shift and redirect in space, exploring different speeds and levels of effort along the way. Often, a problem is presented like: “travel from point A to point B in the room but pause along the way and make a reaching gesture followed by a circular shape with your bodies.” Without fail, multiple clever and surprising versions of these prompts result. The class community is a supportive and engaging one.”

“The freedom to move easily and adapt to real life challenges is a fundamental part of the human experience. Movement freedom allows individuals to enjoy a sense of agency and thrive in an ever-changing environment. As we age, being spontaneous can get harder, especially for someone with a neurodegenerative disease.” 

BRAIN: Improvisation is cognitively challenging and requires spontaneous decisions.

BODY: Dance has been shown to decrease fall risk and help with balance.

WELLNESS: Group classes encourage socialization and an overall sense of well-being.

Education, like life itself, is an ongoing, ever-changing process. In our mission to learn as much as we can from colleagues old and new, each of us who instructs or volunteers with the Parkinson’s Fitness programs will create new concepts to try as the result of Professor Soriano’s visit in June. We can hardly wait to share them!

Movement and Dance = Joy!

Parkinson’s Fitness ability-based exercise and arts programs include classes in movement and dance in a fun, welcoming, and safe environment. Instructors Dianna Daly and Lisa Vincent are trained in the Dance for PD curriculum, in collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group.

Class members are guided through exercises designed to enhance and maintain mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, and strength. All movements are easily modifiable for various levels of capability. Our instructors support and encourage participants to meet their mobility goals by incorporating a variety of music, storytelling, and movement styles from around the world. In this social, creative outlet, participants can discover or rediscover the joy of movement.

Care providers, family members, or supporting friends are welcome to attend, although not required. All are welcome; no previous dance experience required!

Click on our Class Times and Locations page on the web site…and then set a new goal and visit a class soon!

Appreciation for three talented friends…

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

And so we want to share our gratitude about three very special people who have made it possible for Parkinson’s Fitness to share its mission throughout the North Shore communities and beyond. We think of these businesswomen as major foundation stones in our continuing program-building process.

Three years ago, as we recognized the importance of creating program visibility, we turned to Marblehead web designer Annie Clifford, founder of Clifford Web and Video Services ( Aware of Annie’s listening skills in helping clients shape the direction in which they want to present their information to the public, she was able to piece together all of our “we-want-to” visions into our first Parkinson’s Fitness web site. Annie not only played an important part in introducing us to a wider audience, she remains in an even more important role…she’s our friend! We welcome anyone considering Annie as their webmaster to contact us as references!

Recently, two new women – Kimberley Ballard and Jennifer Gonyea from Clarity Collaborative – have colorfully and creatively raised the visibility bar again by re-designing our web site to showcase our broadened definition of Parkinson’s “fitness”. Presenting motivating, ability-based physical exercise in a variety of locations will always remain our primary intention. Additionally, complementary forms of body movement, voice projection using music therapy, an incremental series of fine-motor and cognition-enhancing arts, and interactive socialization require their share of the visibility spotlight as well. So, a big public thank-you to Kimberley and Jennifer for all their recent efforts behind the scenes on our behalf!