Grey Matters: Dance for Parkinson's


To provide participants living with Parkinson’s disease, their immediate family members, and caregivers an opportunity to enjoy the many pleasures and possibilities dance and music offers as a form of symptomatic therapy.

To increase cross participation amongst community volunteers, modern dance and ballet students and faculty at the University of Utah’s Departments of Modern Dance and Physical Therapy.


Short History

Grey Matters: Stretching the Mind, the Body and the Soul through Dance is a Parkinson’s disease program that commenced in February 2015 as a collaboration between the Department of Modern Dance and the Department of Physical Therapy.

The program started as a pilot project with the aim of assisting those living with Parkinson’s who are being treated at the University’s Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. Along with helping to modify the disease’s progression, the project also provided a community service experience to students from both departments.

Through the continued support of the two departments, and the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, the 10th East Senior Center and private donors, the program can continue.

Our Classes

The dance classes take place once a week for an hour and fifteen minutes and are free of charge. The class structure employs the following progression: an introduction, imagery exercises, warm up, chair dances, assisted standing combinations, movement across the floor, and ends with an improvisational reverence movement activity.

Through the use of imagery exercises we set the tone, find breath connections and link the mind, and the body. The sitting exercises emphasize body initiations, coordination and increased range of motion through actions that articulate the joints, including the spine and the limbs.

As the class continues, we move forward with a series of ballet and modern dance exercises that focus on alignment. Several associated dances take place to enhance coordination, balance, flexion and extension as well as isometric strength. We progress to dance combinations by emphasizing the complexity, synchronicity, coordination, balance, strength, cognition and postural stability. We end our classes with an improvisational and imaginative movement activity.

Goals & Outcomes

• Enhance the quality of life of the participants
• Decrease dopaminergic treatments
• Improve motor functions / Lessen motor complications
• Enjoy the body and its physicality
• Measure the physical and emotional effects of dance and music as a form of symptomatic therapy
• Empower by instilling leadership, self-esteem and self-worth in the participants
• Collect empirical and qualitative data on Parkinson’s in Utah.

How Are We Helping?

The first Dance for Parkinson’s disease program in Utah, this project develops skills in creativity, critical thinking and questioning, and making physical, cognitive connections with others.

The Grey Matters program emphasizes dance as a tool for instilling confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. Dance activities motivate participants to explore their cognition and provide a satisfaction that alters their relationship to the environment, thus modifying their quality of life.

Grey Matters: Stretching the Mind, Body and Soul through Dance is designed to provide those living with Parkinson’s disease a form of symptomatic therapy that goes beyond ordinary exercise and stimulates their artistry and imagination. The added benefit of the program is that it supports cross- and interdisciplinary relationships through community-based research and excellence in service and teaching.

Join Us


Or call 801-581-3223

If your are interested in joining us for class as a participant or volunteer, you must contact us in advance.
Thank you.