Dance for Life program brings arts and medicine together

The UF & Shands Arts in Medicine program called Dance for Life brings together dance students and professors, physicians, and patients. The Gainesville Sun talked to Jill Sonke, director of the Center for the Arts in Medicine at UF, and Irene Malaty, MD, medical director for the National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence at UF about the program.

“We don’t dumb it down. We teach a solid dance class,” said Sonke, also a professional dancer. Sonke added that students have learned swing, tango and folk dance in addition to plies at the barre.

Last spring, the Parkinson’s Research Foundation awarded the UF Center for the Arts in Medicine a grant to conduct research on the effect of dance on patients. It is part of an ongoing larger study on the effects of aerobic activity in patients that is sponsored by the National Institute of Aging being carried out by the Center for Movement Disorders.

“The goal of the project is to really get some sort of measures to help demonstrate the benefit, or tease out what it’s improving: is it motor function, mood, cognition?” said Dr. Irene Malaty.

About the Author


Charles Jacobson

Chuck Jacobson maintains the UFMDC Research and Clinical database called INFORM.

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