An initiative of Belco Arts, the Dance for Wellbeing program (DWB) is specially designed for people living with Parkinson’s, for people living with Dementia, and for people living with a range of other physical and neurological challenges.  Its beginnings hail back to 2013 when we commenced a dance program for people with Parkinson’s at Belconnen Arts Centre with one tutor - it has now grown to 4 different class streams delivered by 5 co-tutors, across Canberra, and with dance colleagues and friends around the world, and quite a few performances under our belt! 

 2020 - We commenced this year with high hopes, welcoming back many smiling faces to the dance studio, and sharing stories of the challenging times throughout December and January.  We launched excitedly into a term full of dances and music from great films, shows and musicals - evoking many a fond memory of previous trips to the theatre, cinema or drive-in. The absolutely fabulous dance team of Jane Ingall, Gretel Burgess and Jacqui Simmonds was joined by AmyMacris (at Belconnen Arts Centre), with Philip Piggin continuing as Program Co-ordinator.

IMPACT OF COVID 19 & ONLINE CLASSES - Just as we were about to plan our first performance extravaganza, to mark World Parkinson’s Day at the lakeside, we became aware of the rapidly impending pandemic.  This forced us to temporarily suspend our face to face classes from March 9.  We were devastated, but fully appreciated that the priority is the safety and wellbeing of our dancers, volunteers and tutors.  Since then the tutors have been working fast and furiously with the Belconnen Arts Centre staff to devise and deliver online classes for our dancers - now to be done in the safety and security of their very own home. No travel required!  The classes are added to weekly, and listed on the Belco Arts website - for dancers (and family and friends) to do whenever suits.  Dancers just click on their computer, and then start clicking their fingers and heels!  

PERFORMANCE –  Just to whet your appetite, please enjoy this award winning performance by the Parkinson’s dance group, of I USED TO RUN MARATHONS, as part of Canberra Dance Theatre’s GREAT SPORT! performance at the National Museum of Australia in 2016. 


INTERVIEWS – To hear some more, please join Philip Piggin (Dance for Wellbeing Programs Officer at Belco Arts, and Churchill Fellow)  talking about the origins of the program from his London days in the 1980’s, its context and its realisation and delivery across Canberra, on Living Arts Canberra.

FURTHER INFORMATION – Our programs owe much to the work of Dance for PD, located at the Brooklyn based Mark Morris Dance Group, in the USA.  Visit their website for a very comprehensive listing of resources, research and activities from around the world. 


We know that the world will eventually start to spin a bit more normally, sometime in the future - and then we will welcome our dancers back to regular face-to-face classes that take place at Belconnen or Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Until then, everyone is invited to take us home so we can dance together in your lounge-room!  Most importantly, keep on dancing - exercise is the best thing to keep the brain and body activated, energised, engaged and alert, throughout this challenging time.  


We send our warmest wishes to you all for a very healthy and happy Dance Week 2020.


Philip Piggin (and the Dance for Wellbeing Team)

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