Dance Does a Body Good 

In the late 1990’s I discovered Contra dancing. Contra dancing is a social dance that one can attend with or without a partner. The dancers form sets of two couples in long lines starting from the stage and going down the length of the dance hall. Similar to square dancing, it is a called dance, with lively music. For a number of years I was obsessed with dancing, and while traveling around the country doing some medical consulting, I had the opportunity to attend dances from Boston to San Francisco, and I found that losing oneself on a dance floor for several hours is good medicine for the body and the soul.

Dance and Parkinson’s disease

Not surprisingly, studies indicate that dance may be an effective alternative to traditional exercise for addressing these areas of concern to individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Most people with PD know by now that there is sufficient evidence in the literature to support the positive effects of exercise on gait speed, strength, balance, and quality of life, and that individuals with higher levels of habitual physical activity are at lower risk for developing PD.

Why Dance?

Dance may address many of the key areas that have been identified as being important for an exercise program designed for individuals with PD. For example, dance is an activity performed to music, and the music may serve as an external cue to facilitate movement, thus addressing the first recommended component which is the use of external cues. Dance also involves the teaching of specific movement strategies, which is the second recommended component of a PD-specific exercise program. Dance also addresses a third recommended component,  balance  Throughout dancing, particularly with a partner, one must control balance dynamically and respond to perturbations within the environment (e.g. being bumped by another couple).

In fact, people who have danced habitually over their lives are known to have better balance and less variable gait than non-dancers. People with PD are known to benefit from and respond to external cues, and dancing, particularly called dances, have several sources of built-in cues, including those provided by the caller, the partners and the music.

A final aspect of dance that can’t be overlooked is its social nature. Contra dancing and English Country, in particular developed as social dances as a way for members of a community to come together. You change partners frequently, and eye gaze not only helps you to balance but adds a little innocent flirtation to the dance.

[i] Gammon M. Earhart, PhD, PT, Dance as Therapy for Individuals with Parkinson Disease. European J Phys Rehabilitation Med. 2009 June ; 45(2): 231–238.

New English Folk and Country Dancing in Charlotte County

I am beyond excited to announce that English Folk and Country dancing is coming to Charlotte County staring Monday, February 3, 2020. These weekly dances are open to anyone in the community, including people with PD who feel stable on their feet. No partner is necessary.Gillian Beck is the Caller, and if you would like to be added to her mailing list, just use the email at the bottom of the flyer, or contact her by phone with questions.

Speak Easy 4 PD Classes Begin Thursday January 9th, 2020

Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s is sponsoring Speak Easy 4 PD, a Fun and Interactive class for people with Parkinson’s who want to improve their speaking skills. I will be conducting this class in Port Charlotte, Fl., on the second and fourth Thursday of the month January through April 2020 from 11:00-12:15. There is NO CHARGE for the class and no pre-requisite, however, we ask participants to commit to all 8 sessions of this pilot program and to RSVP. Participants must be independent in activities of daily living. For additional information and to register for the class please contact:

Visit the Neuro Challenge website  to see a listing of all upcoming programs and events including the Parkinson’s EXPO:


My MissionTo enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate  and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP  FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice

Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice