Ballet Memphis helps Parkinson’s patients through dance

Bright Spot

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On the final day of the work-week a group of adults with something in common get to forget all of their worries and come together to move.

“For this one hour a week they connect and put their disease on the backburner and just to be present and be with people like themselves in one room.”

By themselves or with caretakers or family members, Parkinson’s disease fighters get together and dance at Ballet Memphis. It gives them the ability to gain balance, flexibility and coordination.

With the pandemic forcing people to stay at home the sessions have gone virtual.

“It’s probably one of the best 60 minutes of my week.”

“When they come into our class, we rarely talk about Parkinson’s disease. We actually kind of leave it at the door.”

Chip Westbrook was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago. He had been keeping his body moving by boxing and wanted to get involved with whatever else would help his body, mind and soul be at peace.

He calls himself the “klutziest man on Earth,” but is starting to get comfortable moving his feet to the music.

“The only other time I’ve ever been in a ballet building is when my wife would drag me to go see a ballet.”

It’s no longer forced. It’s a joy.

Like thousands across the country, these dancers are fighting to stay active through their diagnosis.

Their newfound family can relate to their personal stories and acts as a reminder to never give up.

“I can either sit in the corner and waste away, or I can say heavens no I’m not going to do that because life is too precious.”

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