Our Story

Our Story

The Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa story starts with Julie Symmonds, founding director of this non-profit organisation. She first heard about the New York-based Dance for PD® programme in 2015 from a family member of one of her ballet students. She took to the Internet to do her research and at the end of her findings, knew what she needed to do - go to New York to complete the Dance for PD® Teachers Course, which began in 2001 as a collaboration between Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group.

In October 2015 Julie attended the Introductory Course and the very first South African class took place at the Playhouse Theatre in Somerset West, Western Cape in February 2016. It was in 2017 that fellow ballet teacher, Carmen Davidson, joined the South African programme and together, Julie and Carmen went to New York to attend the Advanced and Introductory Courses respectively. Julie then continued with the final course, the Certification Programme, which enables her to train new Dance for PD® teachers.

Together Julie and Carmen have pioneered the programme’s spread throughout South Africa, always with the vision to provide the Parkinson’s community with a life-enhancing movement programme that returns a sense of validation and purpose to their lives. They have since trained 28 Dance for PD® teachers in South Africa and 1 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Teachers now offer these classes in KZN, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and Harare, Zimbabwe.

In August 2018 Dance for Parkinson’s South Africa became a registered non-profit, with a board of directors, consisting of two executives and eight non-executive members. All donations are exempt from tax in terms of section 18A(1)(a) of the Act. You can read more about this on our Donate page.


We choose to MOVE