While the Oklahoma City Ballet is known for its dazzling performances by its artists from around the world, it also provides an outlet for elderly people who are looking to put a little pep in their step or help maintain their health.
In 2016, the ballet launched its “Golden Swans” program, which offers free ballet dance lessons to seniors in the city. A year later it offered “Dance for Parkinson’s,” which offers lessons to people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to the ballet’s executive director Jo Lynne Jones.
Jones told “GMA3” that the health benefits of dance lessons are great and instructors have fine-tuned the classes to meet the needs of their students so they can enjoy the exercises comfortably. For example, the “Dance for Parkinson’s” classes involve the students doing their moves together while seated in a chair.
“So, first of all, they get their comfortable that it helps with their social sociability,” she said. “They’re here with friends and people that they get to know and they’re exercising.”
Those who have taken part in the programs said they have enjoyed their newly found dance community.
Nancy Brawler signed up with the “Golden Swans” program in 2017, after she turned 80, because she said she wanted to “do something different for her brain.”
“But personally, it’s helped me with strength and balance and focus,” she said.
Robin Martin, another participant, told “GMA3” that she previously danced when she was younger, but had to put it on hold after she injured her knee. The program gave her a second chance to get back to her artistic love, she said.
“I think the best thing about the class is it doesn’t matter if you’ve danced before or if you’ve never danced at all. The class is designed to take care of everybody,” Martin said.
Those who have taken part in the “Dance for Parkinson’s” program told “GMA3” that they feel a major difference health-wise when they dance.
Randy Keller said that he feels better every time he walks out of the class.
“I got diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 2019, and what I learned is that the way, the best way, to manage Parkinson’s is to get involved in a lot of activities,” he said.
Jones said the ballet company offers the two programs around the city and welcomes others who are interested to join in.
“Our mission and our core values are community; they are at the heart of everything we do,” she said.