Dancing with Parkinson’s: “I feel completely changed”

Interviews

Author: Pippa Prendergast-CoatesPublished: 13 August 2020

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Parkinson's campaigner Massimiliano Iachini at a dance class

We hear from Parkinson’s campaigner Massimiliano Iachini about why it’s important to keep moving after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, the complementary therapies he’s found helpful – and how to “create new beautiful habits that work for you”


Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Massimiliano, Massi for my friends. I’m an engineer for telecommunications company Colt. It is not easy, but I am lucky because I work in a good company. They know I have Parkinson’s and they are very attentive and speak openly about the condition.

I worked in an office before lockdown and it was a good environment with a good company culture. It’s important to have that and to be able to explain your condition and help colleagues understand the problems you’re having.

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 13 years ago, I noticed that many people with the condition who don’t move very well may start feel afraid to go outside and do something. But it’s important not to think like that.

Parkinson’s is a disorder of movement, so we need to approach the disorder by moving.

I’m also a member of the Associazione Italiana Giovani Parkinsoniani, which supports people with young onset Parkinson’s to make sure they don’t feel alone.

What is the ‘Dance Well’ programme?

Dance Well is more than a programme. It’s a contemporary dance class for people with Parkinson’s which started in the Netherlands and arrived in Italy five years ago.

The classes are held in a beautiful part of the Museum of Bassano del Grappa, Italy. It’s a very big, beautiful room with a beautiful garden, which I find inspiring to visit. Usually there are at least three teachers leading the class, and the participants copy their movements. Everyone interprets the choreography in a different way. There’s an understanding that how you move is not wrong or right – every movement is good because it is made by your body and it is an expression.

Circle of people at Reggia di Venaria

A Dance Well class at Reggia di Venaria in Turin, Italy

After attending the classes, I returned to Turin, Italy, and decided I wanted to create the same experience for people here. Now, every Saturday, we run a dance group for people with Parkinson’s and lots of other people who live in the area also take part – including students, children and families. A year ago, we made an agreement with local museums in Turin to host our classes in a different location each week. One week we could be dancing in the Museo d’Arte Orientale and the next, in the Modern Art Museum. The Lavanderia a Vapore also gives us the space to practise for free every week. We’re inspired by the beauty and the dancing. After the music and dancing, I feel as though I have changed completely. It is incredible how dancing and movement affects your body.

What other complementary therapies for Parkinson’s have you tried?

For the last nine years, I’ve visited Kerala in India to relax, refresh and to find balance. On a typical day during my trips to India, I’ll do yoga, have a consultation with a doctor, have an acupuncture treatment or a massage and go for a walk by the ocean. It’s a non-stop schedule but it makes you feel very motivated and your body feels more relaxed and flexible.

Of course, not everyone with Parkinson’s can go to India for these treatments, but there are things we can try to do at home too to find balance. For example, creating habits such as cooking food that’s good for you and sleeping better by following the normal cycle of the sun.

Create new beautiful habits that work for you – it’s important to listen to your heart and soul.

Parkinson's campaigner Massimiliano Iachini

Parkinson’s campaigner Massimiliano Iachini

Image credits: Fabio Melotti

For more information about Parkinson’s and complementary therapies please visit the EPDA website.


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5 Parkinson’s exercise classes for keeping fit in lockdown

Dancing across the globe for Parkinson’s

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