Wellness: Dancing with Parkinson’s, with Sarah Robichaud
Dancing with Parkinson’s is a Toronto dance class for people living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). It was founded by Sarah Robichaud and now holds multiple classes per week. Parvati Magazine spoke with Sarah about the work she’s doing.
Parvati Magazine: What is your background in dance?
Sarah Robichaud: I am a classically trained dancer who has studied and performed extensively throughout Canada, Europe and Moscow where I studied at the Bolshoi Ballet School. I have performed and choreographed for many theatre, film and television projects over the last 15 years.
PMAG: What inspired you to start teaching dance to people with Parkinson’s?
SR: In 2007 I was working with a man named Andy Barrie from the CBC, who had PD. I was researching ways to help him manage his physical PD symptoms through exercise and learned that the Mark Morris Dance Group in NYC was offering Dance for PD classes. I went to NYC and studied with them and was convinced that dance was an incredibly uplifting and powerful way for people with PD to increase their enjoyment of movement.
PMAG: Why do you think dance is such an effective tool for people dealing with Parkinson’s?
SR: Dance crosses all barriers of age, race and social standing. We cultivate a non judgmental inclusive community where expression through movement and laughter can soar. Dance is freeing, creative and artistic. It connects all of us to one and other and to ourselves. It is joyful and uplifting. And the best part is that it sometimes can help our PD dancers find some relief from their symptoms.
PMAG: What is your favorite thing about doing this work?
SR: I love being in the studio with the dance students each week. We have such a wonderful family. Everyone is so loving and courageous. We have fun.
PMAG: Is there a take-away for people with other disabilities or who are able-bodied, regarding the power of dance for wellness?
SR: Never be afraid to dance. Put on music you like and see what happens. Let the music move you and transformations to happen. You don’t need to have coordination… just let your body move. We all can do it regardless of level of ability. It feels good.
Sarah Robichaud is an on-air fitness expert for CBC Television’s Steven and Chris and CBS Early Morning Saturday in NYC. Sarah’s mission is to help people eliminate the barriers to becoming fit by providing fun, simple workout programs that can be implemented seamlessly into any busy day on the job, on the road or at home. She is the Author of Getting Fit Without Hitting the Gym, and of Working on the Ball – a simple guide to office fitness. Sarah is a motivational keynote speaker for corporate events and wellness workshops. Sarah is also the president, founder and creative director of the charitable organization Dancing with Parkinson’s.