Research News

Free program to study benefits of Tango dancing for those with Parkinson’s disease

January 12, 2015

UW-Madison’s Kristen Pickett is looking for about a dozen individuals who have Parkinson’s disease to take part in a free program that will examine the benefits of Tango dancing.

Kristen Pickett
Pickett explains that exercise has been shown to benefit individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Specifically, gait (walking), disease severity and quality of life have all shown improvement following controlled exercise studies.

Tango dancing, specifically, has resulted in improvements in balance, quality of life, disease severity and walking. Additionally, tango dancing is an engaging and enjoyable form of exercise that includes a social aspect which many individuals find motivating and fun.

The classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (2 to 3 p.m.), beginning Feb. 3 and running through April.  Pickett stresses that no experience in any form of dance is necessary to join, and individuals with PD will be paired with volunteers who also have little to no dance experience.  Master’s students from UW-Madison’s Occupational Therapy program and undergraduates studying within the Department of Kinesiology are scheduled to help out.

Anyone interested in participating or volunteering can email Pickett at

Pickett joined the Department of Kinesiology’s Occupational Therapy program as an assistant professor in August. Her research is centered on how the brain and body interphase during movement, particularly as this relates to Parkin­son’s disease. An article explaining Pickett’s work is showcased in the latest newsletter put out by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.