On pointe: Parkinson’s dance class eases symptoms

PHOENIX – Dance is Ed Coyoli’s passion.

He became a classically trained ballet dancer 45 years ago. He met his wife as a dancer, holding her aloft in a pas de deux.

He retired not as a dancer, but after a career in sales.

Two years ago, after the trembling in his hands showed the first signs of Parkinson’s disease, he returned to
dance.

Coyoli attends a Ballet Arizona class every week for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s, with dance easing the symptoms of the degenerative nerve disease marked by tell-tale tremors and a slowed gait.

“My physical therapist said that my return to dance helped me improve almost better than any single activity I was involved in,” said Coyoli, 70. “When I finish I’m really happy because it loosens up my body, and improves my attitude. I don’t think I could get through the week without doing at least one class.”

Ed Coyoli sows his skill and stregth with a plank. (Photo courtesy Ed Coyoli)

Ed Coyoli shows off his skill and strength. (Photo courtesy Ed Coyoli)

Rather than pirouettes, people in the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease class focus on hope and determination.

“We’re working for control of our bodies all the time to do everything specifically to a technique, or the way the choreographer wants it to be done,” said Debbie Braganza, who has taught the class for five years. “That’s why this helps with Parkinson’s. We train the same way (dancers) need to train.”

Braganza’s father has Parkinson’s, so combining her dance experience with helping those with the disease “just made sense.”

“Just seeing these people come through the door each week, that’s a win right there for me.” Braganza said. “It means enough for them to come and take class every week, and socialize. They get along beautifully.”

More information
What: Dance for Parkinson’s Disease classes
Where: Ballet Arizona, 2835 E Washington Street, Phoenix, Az 85034
When: 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. every Wednesday
Cost: $5 per class, free to caregivers
To register: Call 602.381.0188
Supporters: The Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center collaborates with Ballet Arizona