Skip to Content


MDS makes every effort to publish accurate information on the website. "Google Translate" is provided as a free tool for visitors to read content in one's native language. Translations are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate. Neither MDS nor its employees assume liability for erroneous translations of website content.

International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
Main Content

        VOLUME 27, ISSUE 3 • October, 2023.  Full issue »

Research-informed graphic novel expands on the benefits of music and dance for PD 

The collaborative research lends a voice to Parkinson’s disease patients who find both practical and personal meaning in dance as part of their therapeutic treatment. 

Dancing is a unique form of creative expression that can transform movement in people living with Parkinson’s disease [1]. It brings an arts-health perspective that can help people keep moving. Dance promotes wellbeing and is an integral part of human culture, recreation, celebrations, rituals, and artistic expression [2]. It can also be seen as a form of therapy to help people fight the movement disorders and non-motor symptoms that are the hallmark of Parkinson’s [3,4].

Dancing is a very enjoyable way to keep moving and stay connected. This is very important for people living with Parkinson’s because movement can become slow, and more than 60% of people with Parkinson’s experience falls [3]. It can be challenging to adhere to routine exercises over the long timespan of Parkinson’s, so exercise choices are needed. 

Dancing and music are believed to facilitate neural plasticity in Parkinson’s by improving blood flow, promoting cortical reorganisation, and increasing physical activity levels [2]. As well as the benefits of exercise, dance uses cueing and rhythmic music to trigger movement. Also, social engagement linked to dancing in classes with partners or online is argued to motivate people to keep moving for longer. It can also bring happiness!

A recent collaborative Danish research project Dancing with Parkinson’s contributes experience-based knowledge by people with Parkinson’s about how music and dance offers more than training alone [5,7]. Interviews were conducted with 37 people with Parkinson’s who dance regularly, supplemented with 6 spouses and 7 dance instructors. The researchers collated 3 themes:  

  1. Music and dance are combined in ways that bring benefits related to remembering good times through songs and dances, enjoying learning various dances, and feeling happy. People with Parkinson’s report gaining energy, vitality, mobility, and sensory awareness, which motivates them to continue dancing [6,7].  

  1. Social relations are important, and a dance community helps combat isolation and stigma. Dance is perceived as different from the obligatory physiotherapy and training that disciplines the body.  

  1. Dancing is existentially meaningful as artistic activity that improves quality of life without medicine or side effects. Some even find that dance and music promote spiritual and sensual well-being and acceptance because their lives are expressed through song and dance.  

The interviews formed the basis for co-produced research communication in a graphic novel [5] aimed at telling stories about living with Parkinson’s, encouraging empathy and hope, and spreading the joy of dance and music. 



  1. Morris, M. E., Slade, S. C., Wittwer, J. E., Blackberry, I., Haines, S., Hackney, M. E., & McConvey, V. B. (2021). Online Dance Therapy for People with Parkinson’s Disease: Feasibility and Impact on Consumer Engagement. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 35(12), 1076-1087. DOI: 10.1177/15459683211046254 
  2. McMahon, J., Chazot, P. Dance and Parkinson’s: Biological Perspective and Rationale. LifestyleMed. 2020;1:e15. 
  3. Morris, M. E., Menz, H., McGinley, J. L., Watts, J. J., Huxham, F. E., Murphy, A. T., Danoudis, M., Iansek, R. A Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Falls and Improve Mobility in People with Parkinson’s disease. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 2015;29(8) 777-785. JCR Impact Factor 4.617. DOI: 10.1177/1545968314565511  
  4. Shanahan, J., Morris, M. E., Bhriain, O. N., Volpe, D., Lynch, T., & Clifford, A. M. (2017). Dancing for Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Trial of Irish Set Dancing Compared with Usual Care. Archives of Physical Medicine, 98(9), 1744-1751. DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.02.017 
  5. Frølunde, L., Phillips, L. J., Christensen-Strynø, M. B. (2023). Moving Along: A Co-produced Graphic Novel about Parkinson’s Dance. Illus.: Jetsmark, C., Vium, T.  Peter Lang Academic Publishers. DOI: 10.3726/b19900 
  6. Christensen-Strynø, M. B., Frølunde, L., Phillips, L. J. (2023) Crip Empathography: Co-Creating a Graphic Novel about Parkinson's Dance Experiences. Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. 17(3), 327–348. DOI: 10.3828/jlcds.2023.25 
  7. Christensen-Strynø, M. B., Phillips, L. J., Frølunde, L. (2021). Revitalising Sensualities of Ageing with Parkinson's through Dance. Journal of Aging Studies, 59, 1-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaging.2021.100978 


Read more Moving Along:

Full issue    Archives

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience with our website. These cookies are also used to ensure we show you content that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies to improve your user experience. You can click the cookie settings link on our website to change your cookie settings at any time. Note: The MDS site uses related multiple domains, including and This cookie policy only covers the primary and domain. Please refer to the MDS Privacy Policy for information on how to configure cookies for all other domains on the MDS site.
Cookie PolicyPrivacy Notice