Parkinson’s podcast: Member Gary talks music and movement with dancer Pamela Quinn

In a quest to learn about the benefits of music for people with Parkinson’s disease, we met Pamela Quinn, a professional dancer in New York City who was diagnosed with young-onset PD more than 20 years ago. These days, she teaches thriving dance classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan for people with Parkinson’s (check out her class PD Movement Lab for more), and gives talks around the world – from Chicago to Japan – about dancing and moving with PD (catch one of Pam’s inspiring lectures here).

Turns out Team of Advisors member Gary (tupelo), who is living with PD, has known Pam for about three years (they met through their movement specialist, Rachel Saunders-Pullman, M.D.).

Gary and Pam recently sat down for a chat, friend to friend, and let us join in. This is just a snippet:

Pam: “I was in shock because Parkinson’s was not really in my world view at the time – I was a professional dancer, I was a young mother and that was the farthest thing from my thoughts.”

Gary: “So what did you do after finally accepting that you had this chronic progressive disease that would be with you for the rest of your life?”

Pam: “Well, I didn’t accept it…”

Hear the 15-minute podcast

Beyond sharing her reaction to her diagnosis, Pam offered lots of tips for taking elements of dance, breaking down movements and using music to keep on moving (in addition to using prescribed medication, she notes).

“Music is fantastic,” Pam says. “Music is definitely part of my medicinal arsenal. It eases my gait. It propels through space. It helps initiate movement. It has no side effects. It’s cheap. And when they banned it from the New York City Marathon because it gave runners a competitive edge, I knew I was on the right track.”

The PatientsLikeMe community has a lot to say about this topic, too – there are 850+ threads about music and 1,000 threads about dance in the Parkinson’s Disease forum.

Looking for more movement tips and tricks from Pam? She’ll be posting videos and practical pointers for people with PD on her new blog,  

A note from Pam: The content of this post and podcast is intended to provide experiential advice from a fellow patient about ways of moving to help manage your PD. It is in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before engaging in any new exercise program. Pamela Quinn or PD Movement Lab will not be responsible for any injury or harm you sustain in performing any exercises or following any advice presented here in. 


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2 thoughts on “Parkinson’s podcast: Member Gary talks music and movement with dancer Pamela Quinn”

  1. Frank DePasquale

    I haven’t been in Patients Like Me for several years but when I got an email about dancing to the Rolling Stones and dancing as therapy, I had to check this out. I am 71 years old and had been diagnosed with “Parkinsonism” in 2006 after visiting a neurologist since 1999.
    I am a New Yorker and had been teaching English in Norway for 20 years. I was never interested in physical training programs but I love doing 1970 type dancing which has proven to be the best medicine fro my PD. I will send you some of the song titles I have used – mostly Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner.
    My main interest now is to find a therapist in Norway who is qualified to start a Dance for PD training center. Do you have any contact with therapists/dancers in Norway who would be interested in promoting dancing as a form of training to PD patients and/or others with functional challenges? Would you be interested in visiting European countries to promote this therapy?
    I look forward to hearing your ideas and following some of your tips and topics.
    Thank you for your time and the work you are doing for PD.
    Frank DePasquale

  2. Hello Frank,

    The PatientsLikeMe team shared your comment with Pamela Quinn, and here’s her reply:

    “Dear Frank,
    Thanks for responding to my blog post! Yes , good rhythmic music is one of our most important drugs. You and I have been ingesting it and training with it for years. As for directing you to a dance class in Norway, I don’t have any contacts there but i’m ccing this email to Davis Leventhal, a friend and colleague who runs the Dance for PD program which has classes all over the world.. He is more likely to have connections to someone in your area than I am. and can perhaps be of help.

    Have you ever been to a World Parkinson Congress? It’s a fabulous meeting with PWPs. researchers, doctors care givers, teachers, etc. from all over the world to discuss the state and future of the disease. It’s really informative and powerful. The next one is in Kyoto in June of 2019. Maybe you can come.? !…There’s another gentleman with PD who went to the last WPC in Portland, Oregon. and who is from Norway – I don’t know where though, but Eli Pollard from the WPC know his whereabouts. His name is Morten Bremer Maerli.

    Good luck to you, keep dancing and stay in touch!
    Pamela Quinn”

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