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Dance for Parkinson's Partnership UK (DfPP UK)

Dance can support people living with Parkinson's to develop confidence and strength, and provide the opportunity for creativity and self-expression, whist also temporarily relieving some participants of symptoms in everyday life.

"...I've identified about eight or ten words to describe what we’re doing: imagination, creativity, language, colour, music, rhythm. And I’ve not come across anything, anything in my diverse life, which combines all those things. The breadth and depth of what is going on downstairs [in the studio] is significant.”

“I feel released from the Parkinson’s, in more control of my body and with friends.”

Participant quotes: English National Ballet, Dance for Parkinson’s: An Investigative Study 2 - A report on a three-year mixed methods research study by Dr. Sara Houston and Ashley McGill MSc, April, 2015 with Prof. Raymond Lee, Katherine Watkins MCSP and Cameron Donald and Pavilion Dance South West, Parkinson’s Dance class feedback 2015/2016.

Two-day workshop in Cardiff, Wales: Introduction to dance for people living with Parkinson's

A two-day workshop presented by Wales Wide Training Programme, Rubicon Dance, Cardiff Metropolitan University, People Dancing and Dance for Parkinson’s Partnership UK.

Saturday 22 June 2019
Sunday 23 June 2019
Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cyncoed Campus, Cyncoed Road, Cardiff CF23 6XD

Course leaders: Heidi Wilson, Dr Sophia Hulbert, Yvette C Halfhide and Helen Woods.

The course will provide participants with an insight into how to structure dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s, as well as focusing on the artistic imperative behind a Parkinson’s dance programme. Dance practitioners will gain an overview of the effects of the condition on dance participants, learn how to ensure safety for all participants and benefit from the practical experience of devising and delivering content for a dance for Parkinson’s class.

Course participants must have successfully completed the Introduction to Dance for Parkinson’s online learning programme assessment before taking part in the practical course. Access to this learning programme is included in the course fee. Please note: online training should be completed by Wednesday June 5th.
 Course fee: £270. Applications can be made by emailing Tracey Brown at for non-bursary applications: Monday May 13th at 5.00pm.
24 bursaries of £130 are available for artists living or working anywhere in Wales. Bookings by application can be made by filling in the application for below and emailing it to for bursary applications: Friday May 10th at 5.00pm. Bursary decisions will be given by Monday May 20th.


Photo: People Dancing Summer School 2016. Photo: Rachel Cherry.




Sophia Hulbert biography

Sophia Hulbert is a Clinical Academic and Advance Practice Physiotherapist incomplex Neurology and Parkinson’s with extensive clinical rehabilitation experienceacross the Health and Arts sectors. Her research primarily focuses on Dance and its combined artistic and physiotherapeutic potential for those living with Neurological conditions. As such, she is currently working on a number of exciting dance for health projects with people living with Parkinson’s, Dementia and Stroke at both the Universities of Exeter and Southampton in collaboration with Pavilion Dance South West.

Alongside her roles as a researcher and Physiotherapist Sophia is also a dancer and co-director of the successful ‘Parkinson’s Dance Science’ model delivered at Pavilion Dance South West. The model continues to grow across the region with more than 100 people with Parkinson’s dancing in weekly classes which she co-teaches and mentors as well as holding a strong research evidence base demonstrating positive, multifactorial effects. Sophia also sits on the steering group of the Dance for Parkinson’s Partnership, UK and is actively delivering national training programmes in the Arts sector and in University courses for Dance.

Sophia has a dedication and passion for implementing novel and exciting research and rehabilitation into practice, presenting work nationally and internationally, and encouraging collaboration between the artistic and medical audiences. She strives to better understand how rehabilitation and the arts can combine to provide enriching and enhancing experiences for people living with complex needs and the promotion of self-management through the social sector.

Heidi Wilson biography

Heidi Wilson is an experienced community dance artist and a Senior Lecturer in dance at Cardiff Metropolitan University, School of Sport and Health Sciences. Areas of interest include dance for wellbeing and dance in education. She is very involved in the delivery and development of Dance for Parkinson’s in Wales and works with groups in Builth Wells and Pontypol in partnership with Parkinson’s UK Cymru. Heidi has run training in Dance for Parkinson’s with the Wales Wide Training Partnership for Dance and sits on the Dance for Parkinson’s UK Practice Group (PeopleDancing).

Heidi is involved with the Arts Council Wales/ Welsh Government Creative Learning Through the Arts, Lead Creative Schools programme as a practitioner, Creative Agent and Quality Assessor. She also works extensively with dancers with learning disabilities. Previous job roles include: Dance Practitioner with Dawns Powys Dance (1995-2015); Dance Artist in Residence for St Edmundsbury Borough Council (1992-1994), and; Dance Worker for Equal Arts Elderly Arts Programme (1990-92). She has a Masters degree in Dance Studies from the University of Surrey.


A film exploring Parkinson's and dance

Dancer, choreographer and PD Movement Lab creator Pamela Quinn
has produced a new short dance film featuring a duet she choreographed for David Leventhal and herself.
We all want to dance… including people living with Parkinson’s
Where we are now...
Much of the developing interest in dance on the part of people living with Parkinson’s has been encouraged by the work of the Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK, now relaunched as the Dance for Parkinson’s Partnership (DfPP UK).

The DfPP UK, established in October 2017 to give new focus to the diverse and growing practice of dance for Parkinson’s across the country, has now been adopted as a key project by People Dancing until 2022 and is being supported up to 2018 by a generous grant from the Baring Foundation.

People Dancing have been a vital supporter of the Network since 2012 and the move to this more significant collaboration will provide a valuable strategic opportunity for the DfPP UK given the synergy in our joint commitment to dance for people living with Parkinson’s. It will enable the DfPP UK to concentrate on its’ key ambition that everyone with Parkinson’s has the opportunity to engage in high-quality, diverse and creative dance.

In partnership with People Dancing and others across the UK, we will also continue to support the artists, practitioners and researchers developing and leading this work, through Introductory courses and Continuing Professional Development events and workshops, and our keen interest in taking an inquisitive approach to the development and delivery of dance for people living with Parkinson’s.

Where it all began...
Originally inspired and supported by the work of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD® in Brooklyn, New York and driven forward by a committed group of individuals (Toby Beazley, Mel Brierley, Daphne Cushnie, Joanne Duff, Amanda Fogg, Dr Sara Houston, Dr Sophia Hulbert, Anna Leatherdale (as a representative of People Dancing), alongside English National Ballet and Pavilion Dance South West), the Network has played a key role in developing more opportunities for people with Parkinson’s to participate in dance. It was always committed to bringing this community together to share, exchange and develop good practice.

Since 2009 the Network has worked with the UK dance sector to initiate training and continuing professional development (CPD) activity in this specialist area of dance practice, securing significant funding to help scale up provision, supporting independent practitioners, dance companies and organisations to make dance accessible to people living with Parkinson’s.

Why we need this new partnership...
Partnership working has been key to our success to date, and it is with this spirit of cooperation that we believe our ambitions can be most effectively realised, hence the change to our shape.

The DfPP UK is now poised to build on the achievements of the Network. It is well positioned to help achieve a long held ambition to give everyone in the UK who has Parkinson’s the opportunity to enjoy a high quality dance experience and engage in the creative, dynamic and aesthetic experience that dance offers.

There are early plans to explore a qualification for dance and Parkinson’s, as well as to provide regular opportunities for dance artists and teachers to participate in CPD workshops, advanced sessions and webinars. A comprehensive UK map of dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s has already been put in place, and we look forward to seeing this grow in number and location.

This new partnership, continuing the strong emphasis on collaboration within the sector, will work to be a powerful and confident advocate for the all-round impact and creative value of dance for people living with Parkinson’s.
Sophia awarded Steve Brown Bursary for 'Digital Dancing' work

Independent dance artist Dr Sophia Hulbert has been awarded the Steve Brown Bursary for her proposal, 'Digital Dancing' (in collaboration with Pavilion Dance South West and Attik Dance), to explore the physical 'experience' of dance for Parkinson's through 3-D motion analysis, by focusing on the question - 'what does dance make your body feel like?'

From both qualitative and quantitative studies of the evidence on the effects of dance for Parkinson's, it can now be said with confidence that dance has a positive effect on disease severity, balance, walking quality, endurance, and quality of life.

Yet the research still doesn't address the issue that dance also brings something unique and individual to each 'dancing body'. For some this may be better balance, the ability to walk better, or a better posture; for others, this may be a feeling of fluidity, flow, freedom of movement and movement confidence, or even something indescribable.

"The panel were hugely impressed with many of the proposals submitted and very much hope to continue this bursary scheme in the future," said Kiki Gale, Director of the Dance for Parkinson's Partnership UK (DfPP UK).

"The dance and Parkinson's sector across the UK is offering high quality innovative dance programmes for people living with Parkinson's, using the unique qualities that dance offers, and the DfPP UK is keen to support this specialist sector to continue to explore new ideas."

Online Learning Programme

People Dancing and Dance for PD® have, with the assistance of the Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK, created an online learning programme designed to help dance practitioners gain some of the background knowledge needed before embarking on practical learning associated with the safe delivery of dance sessions for people with Parkinson's.

Comprised of eight units, the course gives learners essential information about Dance for Parkinson’s core principles, the medical condition, and the effects of symptoms and medication on dance class participants.

It provides specific, expert guidance on conducting a risk assessment, cultivating safe practice, establishing inclusive class structure and design, incorporating adaptations and embodying effective teaching techniques. The interactive programme includes video clips and research reports, as well as text and audio resources that make it engaging and fun to do.

Read More


English National Ballet, Dance for Parkinson's: An investigative study

English National Ballet and Dr Sara Houston and Ashley McGill of Roehampton University.

Read the report

Classes and Workshops

Classes and workshops for people with Parkinson's

A full listing of classes, from around the UK, offered to people living with Parkinson's (and their carers) can be found on our website, please follow the link below.

Find a class in your area here

A note about the term 'partnership'

We use the term partnership to imply a way of working - a collaborative approach - rather than to imply a partnership in legal terms. The Dance for Parkinson's Partnership UK is operated by and housed at People Dancing.