In 2016 HD Entertainment received an email from Isa, a wonderful lady who tragically suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Isa had seen a TEDx Talks clip presented by Professor Rafi Eldor, explaining how he used ballroom dancing to treat the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Although Isa had never taken dance classes before, she was eager to try Professor Rafi Eldor’s ‘prescribed medication’ to overcome her own difficulties. Even though I had never taught dancing to someone with Parkinson’s disease, Isa’s email made me want to explore the connection between Parkinson’s disease and dancing, to help her in any way that we could. I started teaching Isa the Foxtrot and Rumba with an emphasis on posture, gait and balance. Isa was responding so well, standing straighter, moving to the rhythm of the music and showing great promise in developing balance and co-ordination. I could see with my own eyes that Professor Rafi Eldor had discovered something, however at this stage we were only scratching the surface of the possibilities.
Around this time I was studying to complete my Gyrotonic® Method instructor qualifications (Gyrotonic is like a combination of Pilates, yoga, tai chi and swimming). I researched many aspects of specific traits and effects of Parkinson’s disease and specifically looked at Isa to assess what she needed to improve her balance and co-ordination for dancing. I formulated a plan that included different types of dance including Ballroom and Argentine Tango, Gyrotonic® Method and personal training. We started making real progress and I was inspired to do anything I could to help Isa as well as others suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
As we continued dancing lessons, I monitored how my dancing instruction could be more effective for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease and what exercises and dance styles were most beneficial for Isa’s conditions. It didn’t take long for word of Isa’s success to spread, and suddenly I had numerous new students with Parkinson’s disease. It was at this point that I realised the diversity of this condition and how differently it effects people. I continued to specialise and tailor styles of dance and some exercises that would help each individual whether they needed to work on gait (right or left side), balance, arm movement, co-ordination and overall wellbeing and support.
Fast forward three years and HD Entertainment has opened its own dance studio in Prahran spread out over two dedicated levels: one for the dance studio, and one for the fitness studio. The dance studio features Ballet Barres, a sprung floor, mirrors, sound system, lift access, plus natural light and air. The fitness studio is equipped with a Gyrotonic® tower, Propeller unit, weights and strength equipment. We added boards to the fitness studio so my wife Dalena can teach Tap dancing.
We continue to develop our program which now includes a free group class every Wednesday at 11 AM for people with Parkinson’s disease, Tap dancing classes if deemed safe and appropriate for the individual, ballet classes, contemporary dance, Latin & Ballroom, Brazilian samba, Bollywood and more. Our focus is always on the element we need to work on, whether it’s articulation of the foot, balance, dexterity, co-ordination, size of steps and movements (volume), or different rhythms (cadence). We use different and appropriate dance styles and exercises to achieve improvement in these areas and overall quality of life.
In the media
Tony Moclair from 3AW 693 and Dalena Leggieri Ebadi speaking about Parkinson’s Disease and how dance has tremendous benefits
Hooman Ebadi & Isa join ABC 774 Host Richelle Hunt in the discussion on Parkinson’s disease and the benefits that come with dancing
Channel 9 News segment on HD Entertainment’s free dance classes for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease
HD Entertainment’s Parkinson’s Dance Program continues to develop and add more specific exercises and testing to gauge effectiveness in specific areas. “Elevate the human experience in your body” continues to be our mission!