Dance for Parkinson's duo off the Sydney

Dance-off: Russell and Sheila MacDougall.

Dance-off: Russell and Sheila MacDougall.

SHEILA and Russell MacDougall know as well as anyone the effects of living with Parkinson's disease.

It is why they started the Port Macquarie Dance for Parkinson's group 14 months ago and so far Mrs MacDougall said it had been a huge success.

"It motivated us because we could see what it does to a person if they don't get out," she said.

"Studies have shown dancing and exercise do lift depression and the tango dance we teach has proven to be as good as an anti-depressant."

She said it had been difficult as there was no other courses available between Sydney and Brisbane.

While it allowed them to be innovative with their ideas they needed to ensure everything was done "in a safe way".

"When people see what we do they will know it's a walking dance, but we practice everything including the embrace," she said.

"It is possible for people to live with Parkinson's, lead an active lifestyle and to enjoy life. It's been great to spread the word and we want to grow what we do in this area.

"People with Parkinson's isolate themselves and this social outlet is a wonderful way to enhance their life."

This June, people with Parkinson's Disease, and NSW school students, will be offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to dance at the Sydney Opera House thanks to a series of dance workshops hosted in conjunction with New York's internationally acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group.

Since its inception as a small monthly class at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn in 2001, Dance for PD has conquered the world - positively impacting the lives of thousands of people with Parkinson's via classes and workshops offered in more than 100 communities across nine countries.

A free community class will be held at the Opera House from 1.30pm on June 7 which will offer people with Parkinson's and their carers the opportunity to participate in a dance class led by dancers from the dance group.

The Port Macquarie Dance for Parkinson's group meet at the Rotary hall every Wednesday morning between 9.30am and 11am.


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