Ballet Arizona hosting virtual classes for people with Parkinson’s Disease and Down Syndrome

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Ballet Arizona is providing two new virtual dance programs to help serve groups at extra-risk for COVID-19. One is a class for those with Parkinson’s Disease. The other is a class for people with Down Syndrome.

What is Ballet Arizona offering

“Ballet Arizona has been a large part of the Arizona arts and culture community for the last 30+ years, and we really wanted to make sure that we were transcending communities,” said Alexandra Papazian, the education and community manager at Ballet Arizona.

“So classical ballet is known as being very rigid and, sort of a high brow art form, and we’re doing all the work we can to bring that to everyone. We want everyone to feel like it’s for them; we want to have avenues to participate. And one of the things that we really found with Down Syndrome and neural diversity, and also Parkinson’s Disease, is that the dance has a way of connecting the mind to the body,” Papazian said.

How Ballet Arizona helps

Parkinson’s Disease is a nervous system disorder that progressively affects movement. Down Syndrome may affect physical growth and is associated with intellectual disability.

“It’s really important to make sure you’re developing the whole person because there are some deficiencies in how the brain functions and the way that dance attacks that is it’s asking the brain to focus on the body through movement: and its improving cognition and its improving social skills,” Papazian said.

They can no longer be in the same room, but Papazian said there is still a sense of togetherness.

“It’s providing people with networks to the wider community and allowing them to participate in something as they are, versus asking them to participate in something that doesn’t honor their whole person,” Papazian said.

The School of Ballet Arizona offers classes to the community through their Creative Aging Through Dance, Adaptive Dance, and Dance for Parkinson’s programs.

Alexandra Papazian, Education and Community Manager, Ballet Arizona

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