Dancers find support, comfort, survival

GRAND RAPIDS, Mi. – A special class through Grand Rapids Ballet School shares the healing power of dance.

The Adaptive Dance Program was established in 2009 and gives people at all levels the opportunity to experience the joy of dance and the community that comes with it. For some, it is a life-changing experience.

“When you go into a dance studio, you’re a dancer, you become a dancer,” Grand Rapids Ballet School principal Attila Mosolygo, working with students of all ages, talents and abilities. But once a week he has a class where everyone shares a common bond. They all have Parkinson’s disease. “It’s a dance class, and many of us know that dance has its physical benefits, apart from the joy of dancing.” One of his students is Amy Stoner, who was only recently diagnosed, and she is no stranger to school. “I took ballet classes with him for years, so the day I came in to hold this class, he was in the hallway, and I just said, well, I’m joining your class, it’s not your ballet class, and he was just super hot. ” That day marked a heartbreaking transition for Amy, but she quickly found comfort, support, and survival in the studio. “Dance speaks my language and there are many different kinds of dance, but this is not ballistic, it’s just about flowing and flowing. Be happy with how much you can or can’t.”

The school has been offering these free classes through the adaptive dance program for more than a decade – in partnership with Spectrum Health and the West Michigan Parkinson’s Association. Mosolygo says, “To people with Parkinson’s, I make a small difference in their lives. You know we dance not only for the sake of dance, but movement, if used properly, can help with everyday tasks.” He says classical ballet truly translates into effective therapy for the participants. “Every time we do something, we actually do it with both sides of our body, if we do an exercise on the right side, we turn around and we do it with the left. From all the big movements, use of space, listening to music, down to this tiny little detailed movement that isolates foot and ankle movements that really help with balance, stretching, continuous movement and most importantly using our imagination. ”

In addition to the movement, these dancers motivate and inspire each other. Stoner says, “All I have found in this place and elsewhere is just community, friendship, encouragement.” Mosolygo repeats this, saying “Our mental health is just as important to our physical health, so being able to meet once a week, make friends, let everyone know how we do what we do, it does a huge different in everyone’s life. “

In honor of April being Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the school is holding an evening welcoming all interested in class on Tuesday, April 26 at 11:00. There will be coffee and donuts – along with teaching about the many benefits of a class like this. to one with Parkinson’s. It’s at the Grand Rapids Ballet School in the center. They also offer this tuition on Wednesdays in the Netherlands. For more information, visit their website,

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