Monday, 20 May 2024
Monday, 20 May 2024

Beacon Arts Centre’s Parkinson’s Dance Classes Light Up Lives

A man who has lived with the impact of Parkinson’s disease for the past five years has praised a pioneering dance class at Beacon Arts Centre that helps people manage the condition.

Marking World Parkinson’s Day, David Souza, from Gourock, told how the classes helped him by giving him regular exercise and the chance to meet new people.

Parkinson’s is the fastest-growing neurological disorder in the world, and around 12,400 people in Scotland have a diagnosis of the condition, for which there is currently no cure.
World Parkinson’s Day takes place today and is designed to increase awareness about the condition. This year, organisers are highlighting the benefits of exercise and movement.
David was diagnosed at the age of 71 after he noticed he was moving more slowly and struggling with his balance and coordination.

His Parkinson’s nurse recommended the class at the Beacon to help him exercise and meet new people. The classes help to develop confidence and creativity, while also using dance to address specific issues associated with Parkinson’s, such as balance, coordination, gait and flexibility.

Sessions are accompanied by live piano music. The weekly sessions also tackle social isolation and loneliness, and each class is followed by tea, cake and a chat. The programme is a joint initiative between Scottish Ballet and the Dance Base charity, with the Beacon.

Last summer, the Beacon gave dancers from the Dance for Parkinson’s class a platform to share their experiences of living with the disease with Parkinson’s UK at the Creative Minds festival.

David Souza, 76, said:

“I had no experience of dance before, but I do enjoy walking and still go on short walks with the Ramblers. Dance was completely new to me, but I felt very comfortable.

“The classes give me an incentive to exercise in a friendly situation. It is easy not to bother but exercise is certainly helpful for me.
“I particularly enjoy that the classes take place to live piano music. The piano music is beautiful – it is like having a concert every week. It is a real privilege to listen to.

“Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s was a bit of a shock. I started to slow down and fall behind with things. I was out for a walk with the Ramblers and I suddenly found I was leaning to one side. Meeting other people with Parkinson’s helps.

“The classes are having an impact. It is a gradual thing. I am trying to keep exercising as much as I can, and I love meeting new people. The tea and biscuits are a good part of my week.”

Karen Townsend, creative producer at Beacon Arts Centre, said:

“Our Dance for Parkinson’s classes are a huge part of the Beacon’s mission to Light Up Lives in Inverclyde. We all experience the joy and vitality in the group, which is always welcoming, friendly and positive.

“David’s story, and our experience every week, shows that it is clear that dance brings huge benefits to people living with Parkinson’s and we are committed to offering these vital opportunities to as many people as we can.

“We have seen how taking part in the class and the social café addresses the social isolation many of the dancers experienced after their diagnosis and has become a vital part of their and their family’s weekly routine.

“We welcome anyone who is interested or thinks it may be of benefit to them or a family member to visit a class or the social café post class.”

Dance for Parkinson’s classes take place on Tuesdays at 1pm and cost £5 per session. For more information, or to book, please visit:


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