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Dance class for community members with Parkinson's disease at Connecticut College

NEW LONDON, Conn. - This summer, the Connecticut Parkinson's Working Group (CPWG) will be holding a free dance class in Myers Studio at Connecticut College for people with Parkinson's disease, their family and friends. The class will be held every Wednesday from 10:30 - 11:45 a.m., June 10 through Aug. 26.

CPWG President Stan Wertheimer, an emeritus professor of mathematics at Connecticut College, taught an introductory math course for right-brained thinkers with the goal of building on their strengths to help them better access mathematical thinking before his retirement. He is returning to the college with a similar idea in mind: to help those with Parkinson's disease build on their strengths instead of their disability.

"It seems strange that people with PD can benefit from dance, which one associates with graceful movements and balance," said Wertheimer. "But it works! People who cannot move well seem to especially blossom when they are dancing."

The class, taught by professional dance teacher Rachel Balaban, will combine elements from different styles of dance, including modern, tap, ballet, jazz and social dancing. Similar dance classes are sprouting in other parts of the country and the technique has been covered in press nationwide, from USA Today and The New York Times to Neurology Now.

The method - called "Dance for PD" - was originally developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was presented at the World Parkinson Congress and Neuroscience 2008 in Washington, D.C., and at the International Congress for Parkinson's disease and Related Disorders in Berlin.

The CPWG is a network of people based in Connecticut who have or are affected by Parkinson's disease. The group holds regular meetings and publishes newsletters to inform its community about all aspects of Parkinson's disease and organizes educational events, workshops and social functions.

For more information, call 860-572-9965 or email

About Connecticut College

Situated on the coast of southern New England, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal arts college with 1900 students from all across the country and throughout the world. On the college's 750-acre arboretum campus overlooking Long Island Sound, students and faculty create a vibrant social, cultural and intellectual community enriched by diverse perspectives. The college, founded in 1911, is known for its unique combination of interdisciplinary studies, international programs, funded internships, student-faculty research and service learning.

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June 4, 2009