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Dance | London, Cardiff, Oxford, Ipswich and Liverpool

English National BalletDance for Parkinson's

Dance for Parkinson’s has been running since 2010 and is a programme delivering high quality dance classes for people with Parkinson’s, their family, friends and carers. The classes incorporate live music and dance, and are designed to encourage creativity, freedom of expression, rhythm and use of voice. The programme also includes enrichment activities such as theatre visits and behind the scenes events.

As well as delivering classes, the programme provides professional development for dance artists, musicians and allied health professionals wanting to learn more about delivering dance classes for those living with Parkinson’s.

English National Ballet

English National Ballet © Rachel Cherry

English National Ballet

English National Ballet © Rachel Cherry

Target Beneficiaries

The programme is designed for people with Parkinson’s, their family members and carers. It is open to people with Parkinson’s at any stage of disease progression.

The classes aim to develop self-confidence, strength and social interaction. They are designed to temporarily relieve participants of their day-to-day symptoms.

The professional development part of the programme is for dancers, musicians and health professionals in the locality of each hub.

ENB’s programme is underpinned by two stages of ground-breaking pieces of research with University of Roehampton: English National Ballet, Dance for Parkinson’s: An Investigative Study 1 & 2, provides evidence of impact on the benefits of dance for people living with Parkinson’s.



The programme is delivered at ENB’s new home on London City Island and in partnership with five regional hubs: Royal Albert Hall in London, National Dance Company Wales in Cardiff, DanceEast in Ipswich, Merseyside Dance Initiative in Liverpool and Oxford City Council in Oxford.

Inspired by Dance for PD in New York, ENB developed a Dance for Parkinson’s professional development course to train other dancers, musicians and health professionals, providing a model for dance classes and cultural engagement across the country. ENB Associate Artists facilitate the professional development course as well as one-off workshops in higher education and health settings, UK universities and conferences with international reach. ENB also works in partnership with People Dancing and Dance for Parkinson’s Partnership UK to deliver CPD.

The programme is strategically directed by ENB’s Engagement Director, Fleur Derbyshire-Fox and delivered by specialist ENB Associate dance artists and musicians, local to each hub. Administration is organised centrally from London with support from hub partners. The teams from each hub meet together weekly to share ideas and to keep ENB input strong. This connection has demanded much higher administrative work but has enabled meaningful and sustainable relationships.

The programme has also had volunteer input at the classes. The volunteers supervise refreshments, help with demonstration and help individuals who might need additional support.


  • Many participants noted a change in fluency of movement and improvement of coordination of arms and legs during walking.
  • Participants felt an improved sense of body awareness, in particular a lack of freezing.
  • Participants have an improved sense of physical health.
  • Participants have improved sense of self-esteem and confidence. Dance participants saw stronger trends of improvement in feelings of depression, apathy and anxiety whereas the control group trended towards a decline.
  • The classes help to alleviate social isolation; a space where participants feel valued and where they feel they can make friends.
  • The high quality of the provision creates a ‘specialness’ and feeling of belonging.
  • Participants gained a sense of feeling good about themselves and a feeling of being more capable, despite worsening of symptoms.
  • One volunteer went on to run their own dance for Parkinson’s class.

Since this research and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation funding, ENB and the regional hubs secured funding to continue the programme beyond the 2015 pilot.

Evaluation report


What’s really struck me during the last two weeks is the fluidity. The real one is C. Last week he walked unattended. This week his strides were so big.

Support worker

I didn’t realise that my neck and shoulders had got so stiff. I realise they’re looser. I’m also stronger. I can now push a wheelbarrow across the garden.


It’s not just about dancing, it’s making friends and sharing.



G&K Boyes Charitable Trust with additional support from Postcode Community Trust, The Derrill Allatt Foundation, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Mercers’ Company, MoFo Foundation, Vandervell Foundation. Previously funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation (2012-15) when the programme expanded to include regional partners and in 2015 ENB secured a one-year contract with the NHS West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).