Building Community & Stability Through Creative Movement
Dance for Parkinson’s Brings Joy and Healing
Nine years ago, in a revelatory moment, Ruth Davidson Hahn, saw a local highway billboard that caught her attention. It read, “Nebraska has the highest rate of Parkinson’s disease per capita in the world.” Ruth knew from her many years of the dance life – professional training starting at age nine in New York City followed by a long career as a dancer - that her art could help those who could no longer move easily. A year later, Hahn, who has shared the stage with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Yo Yo Ma, introduced Dance for Parkinson’s to Lincoln – a program that utilizes the power of dance, music, and creativity to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s disease (PD), a central nervous system disorder, affects movement and may present with tremors, stiffness, and loss of balance. Dance for Parkinson’s program teaches individuals with PD to explore movement and music in creative and mentally stimulating ways. Through the artistic expression of dance, Dance for Parkinson’s participants experience personal growth, community, inner joy, and physical benefits.
“Members of the PD community often arrive with a shuffling gait, contracted movements, poor balance, and difficulty rising from a chair,” said participant Judy Johnson. “At the end of each session, we leave with a better stride, more flowing movements, better balance, and the ability to rise.”
During the COVID shutdown, Hahn offered Zoom dance sessions free of charge and recorded video sessions to reach rural communities. The program is offered to people with PD for all levels of mobility and experience, as well as their caregivers and spouses. Whether in-person or virtual, these classes are truly transformative.
“I am grateful for the Arts Learning Grants we received from the Nebraska Arts Council,” said Hahn. “These funds helped pay the teacher, marketing, and other expenses to help keep the program accessible to all, regardless of ability to pay.”
These funds helped pay the teacher, marketing, and other expenses to help keep the program accessible to all, regardless of ability to pay.”
Ruth Davidson Hahn
Creator/Professional Teacher, Dance for Parkinson’s
President and Artistic Director of Ruth Davidson Hahn & Company
Your support to Nebraska Cultural Endowment makes these, and other transformational programs available to Nebraskans.
Dance for Parkinson’s is the intellectual property of Ruth Davidson Hahn & Company