In recognition of Roderick Mitchell, an in-house dance competition was hosted at Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Orange for Parkinson’s research. Roderick Mitchell was born and raised in Orange, CT. He is a known accomplished songwriter and singer. He has been writing songs for 20 years after starting out as a lyric poet and pianist. He has written and sung his favorite songs from his eight albums at various venues (www.RodMitchell.com). These songs have also accompanied Rod for his various dance showcase performances and regional competitions
Rod was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago and he states that the only thing that keeps him going is ballroom dancing. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative movement disorder that is often accompanied by impaired balance and reduced quality of life. Recent studies indicate that dance may be an effective alternative to traditional exercise for addressing these areas of concern for individuals with PD.
First, dance is an activity performed to music. The music may serve as an external cue to facilitate movement, and enhances dopamine release. Secondly, dance-based balance training has been shown to be successful in improving balance, strength, and flexibility. Finally, dance can result in improved cardiovascular functioning.
Several small studies compared those that walked for exercise versus those that danced tango and found that there were greater improvements in balance and walking speed amongst the dancers. Researchers believe that the purposeful walk in tango causes a shift in cortical activation, with increased activity in the premotor and supplementary motor areas mechanisms that are crucial to day to day walking performance.
A final aspect of dance that should not be overlooked is its social nature. Dance enhances social support networks, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life. On October 3rd, the Orange Studio had 40 attendants at our dance competition for Parkinson’s Research. We were able to raise a total of $2,100.00 for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The opening remarks for the event were given by Dr. Diane Richardson a Neurologist from the VA Hospital, who works primarily with patients with Parkinson’s Disease. She confirmed that the best way to stay healthy with PD is to “keep moving …and dancing is great way to keep your balance and coordination active…” Other local donors were 700 ° Pizza from Orange and Luigi’s Bakery from Bridgeport who assisted with food for the event. Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Orange would like to thank all of the local competitors and vendors who contributed towards this great cause. We encourage everyone to keep dancing. It’s a great activity for your physical and mental health!