PURPOSE: To explore if and how Parkinson's disease dance class participation and public performance contributes to perceptions of wellbeing.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A qualitative design using audio-recorded one-on-one semi-structured interviews with five class participants and three teachers/volunteers from two metropolitan Dance for Wellbeing class locations. Data were inductively thematically analysed by three researchers.
RESULTS: Five themes illustrated the experience of dance class and performance for people with Parkinson's Disease: 1) 'the enabling learning environment'; 2) 'physical benefits from class participation; 3) 'mental/psychological benefits from class participation'; 4) 'social benefits from class participation; 5) 'sense of self and life engagement from class participation'. Themes 4 and 5 in particular were considered to be 'magnified by public performance', providing an opportunity for solidarity within the group and a supportive avenue for "coming out" and living publicly with the PD diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: Dance performance magnifies health and wellbeing experiences of people with Parkinson's disease when part of an enabling, inclusive and emotionally and physically safe learning dance class environment. Elements of holistic benefits, as well as the fun and playful nature of the experience may be important elements to consider for motivation, recruitment and retention in this population.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONRehabilitation professionals should consider the use of dance class as an art-based activity that has a holistic therapeutic benefit.Flexible and fun environments are constructive for dancers to sustain attendance and interest.Rehabilitation professionals can be cognisant of the impact of public dance performance as 'coming out' with Parkinson's Disease.