Originally a joint initiative between Scottish Ballet and Dancebase, the weekly Dance for Parkinson’s (DfP) sessions have proved immensely popular since their launch in 2019.
More than 20 people from the local area attend each week, to enjoy live music and a range of seated and standing dance that help develop confidence and creativity. The sessions also address concerns around balance, mobility, coordination and social isolation – with tea and cakes and the chance for a chat a key part of every session.
Much missed during a lengthy postponement due to Covid, the DfP sessions resumed at the theatre in autumn 2021. “I have been coming since the very beginning and the classes had become an important part of my life,” commented John, who attends with his partner, Co.
“It’s not just the physical movement which I enjoy, but also the enthusiasm of those who run the classes. They push you, but only to do what you feel you can do.”
Although designed for people living with Parkinson’s, others who feel they may benefit are also welcomed. While Co initially came in a caring capacity, she is also now feeling less than 100% and gets a huge amount out of the sessions. “It’s the exercise, the movement and the live music,” she commented. “There are lots of different elements – I love it.”
Another regular is Gina, who suffers from arthritis. “When the classes started up, I explained that I didn’t actually have Parkinson’s and was told that I would be very welcome,” she said. “I’m on my own, so it’s very social and we all seem to gel. No-one worries about what they look like, we are too busy enjoying ourselves.”
And it’s not just inhibitions that are left at the door each week. “Once inside the room, you no longer feel like you have an illness,” commented John. “It’s a total mind and body cure.”
Currently on a mid-term break, the next DfP sessions resume on Thursday 28 April and run weekly until the end of June. The sessions are part of a wider health and wellbeing programme at the Eastgate that also includes Memory Lane Music, a cheerful hour of music and song each week for those living with dementia, run by Nomad Beat, Peebles Community Music School.
And as part of Scottish Mental Health Awareness week, this year’s Inspiring Life event includes an extended programme of events running from Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 May each one designed to give much needed energy for the body, mind and spirit.