JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tucked away in a dance studio on Jacksonville University’s campus, a speaker blares Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and various artists you'd hear at a 1950s sock-hop.

The dancers are not who you would expect, but their skills and reason for attending are profound.

"I admitted it to a doctor about four years ago, [but] I probably had symptoms before that but it got severe," Shar Allen said.

Allen is one of about 10 dancers in a class unlike any other you will see around Jacksonville.

The group consists of Parkinson’s patients. Living between the early stages, or like Allen, far along.

"I found myself wanting to isolate a lot and not display myself because you see it’s such a thing you can see on the outside," Allen said.

Her shaking comes and goes. Lost, however, amid the steps and motions of dance.

"You see a light shine in their eyes, instructor Cari Coble said, "They’re hearing a lot about what they can’t do, but when they come into a dance class and they realize they can do movement."

To Coble, the mission is personal.
Parkinson’s has touched her family -- two cousins have been diagnosed, which she explained was an inspiration to start the hour-long class.

"We want to find anything that we can do to make their lives go a little bit easier," Coble said.

Partnering with instructors in New York and at the University of Florida – hoping one day they can study similar patients. Allen explained it’s the music and the challenge that peaks her interest.

"We all want to get as much out of life as we can, and this is fun a lot of stuff we go to isn’t fun," Allen said.

Tapping, motioning with their hands, an elegant display that is captivating to watch

Coble said it best; "It’s a time you can express yourself and that you have a lot of things hidden inside that want to come out so dance class is the perfect time to do that."

Research from across the world has already been performed on the benefits of dance therapy for Parkinson’s patients, as noted by Harvard University. Coble said her group is always looking to expand. Talk with your doctor about any limitations you might have before getting on the dance floor.

If you want more information about the class, contact Cari Coble at ccoble@ju.edu or (904)256-7398.