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Adaptive Dance Program healing through movement

Grand Rapids Ballet 'Moving with Parkinson's'
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Posted at 7:01 AM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 07:03:28-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mi. — A special class through the Grand Rapids Ballet School is sharing the healing power of dance.

The Adaptive Dance Program was created in 2009 and allows people of all abilities to experience the joy of dance and the community that comes with it. For some, it's a life-changing experience.

"Once you walk into a dance studio, you are a dancer, you become a dancer,” Grand Rapids Ballet School director Attila Mosolygo works 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 is a dance class and many of us know that dance does have its physical benefits, other than the joy of dance.” One of his students is Amy Stoner, who only recently got diagnosed, and she’s no stranger to school. "I took ballet classes from him for years so when the day I came in to do this class he was in the hallway and I just said, well I’m joining your class, that's not your ballet class and he was just like super warm.” That day marked a heartbreaking transition for Amy, but she quickly found solace, support and survival in the studio. "Dance speaks my language and there's a lot of different kinds of dance but this is not ballistic it's about just really just kind of flowing and being joyful about how much you can or can't do.”

The school has offered these free classes through the adaptive dance program for more than a decade - partnering with spectrum health and the west Michigan Parkinson’s association. Mosolygo says, "To people with Parkinson’s I’m making a small difference in their lives you know we're not just dancing for the sake of dancing but movement if it is applied the correct way, it can help with everyday tasks.” He says, classical ballet truly translates into an effective therapy for the participants. "Every time that we do something, we actually do it with both sides of our bodies if we do an exercise on the right side we turn around and we do it with the left. From all the big movements, using space, listening to music, down to this small little detailed movement isolating foot and ankle movement which really helps with balance, stretching, continuous moving, and most importantly using our imagination.”

Beyond the movement, these dancers motivate and inspire each other. Stoner says, “All I have found in this place and other places is just community, friendship, encouragement.” Mosolygo echoes that, saying “Our mental health is equally important to our physical health, so to be able to come together once a week, catch up with friends, let everybody know how we're doing what we're doing it makes a huge different in everybody's life.”

In honor of April being Parkinson’s awareness month, the school will host an even that welcomes anyone interested in the class on Tuesday, April 26 at 11:00 There will be coffee and donuts - along with education about the many benefits of a class like this to someone with Parkinson’s. It's at the Grand Rapids Ballet School downtown. They also offer this class on Wednesdays in Holland. If you want more information, you can head to their website,