Parkinson’s is one of those good days and bad days conditions. Some days those who live with it would hardly know anything was wrong. On others they can feel debilitated and low as the disease mars their ability to talk or swallow or go to the loo. It can make them stiff. Or so dizzy they can’t walk. Or tremble so badly they can’t hold a cup.

A few of the dancers who come into the studio definitely look fatigued and are slower-moving than their companions when they arrive.

How quickly it all changes. As we all get into the warm-up routine – we squidge our toes, caterpillar our feet across the floor and move our arms and legs – you can visibly see bodies relax and limbs lengthen. To soothing piano music we curl our spines. I have two left feet as well as two left arms but feel pretty pleased with my efforts already. Until it comes to touching our toes that is. To a man, woman and carer – several are members – they can all do this. But not me. And I’m sitting down. Hmm.

Briskly we are taken through the routine to our first dance, cleverly designed to get us stretching and moving rhythmically to a tune as well as enjoying ourselves. I imagine this will be to a nice bit of Chopin or something so when the first bars of The Beatles’ ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ blast through the sound system I’m amazed.

One gentleman who was definitely on the immobile side when he arrived is beaming as he executes his perfect steps, and we all belt out the words to the chorus. Our next set of moves are like the hokey-cokey, in and out of the circle. Several of those who started off seated are now standing. Aimee Smith, who helps lead the class, explains that this is quite common.

“The dance actually helps the body formulate sets of actions,” she says.

These repetitive actions help the body to strengthen and control itself better.

There are frequent pauses for water; people are really exerting themselves even if they don’t realise it, and I catch up with class member, Sally Harvey. Eight years ago she realised something was wrong when she was swimming and was having to consciously send messages to her foot to make the correct movements instead of doing it instinctively.

“When you have to do that all the time it can get very tiring,” she says.

“Your limbs don’t always do what you want them to.”

She cannot work now because: “One minute you’re perfectly all right, the next you aren’t. I have got co-ordination problems although shaking isn’t a huge problem for me.”

When she first arrived at the class this afternoon: “I felt I could hardly walk but now I’m all right.”

But it’s not just the dancing that helps. “We do speech, we do balance, we get so many tips from what we learn here that we can use in our daily lives.”

She recently did a sponsored walk for Parkinson’s research and had found she was having trouble walking.

“The girls suggested I listened to marching music when I was doing it, so I got round listening to that.”

The camaraderie of the group is a huge draw. “We are very supportive of each other, we often go for coffee after a class,” she says.

Newcomers are always encouraged to come back.

“We are just so lucky to have this,” says Sally.

Our chat is cut short by the sound – and sight – of the members dragging long ballet barres into the studio for the next session. I love ballet and secretly reckon I’ll excel at the next segment.

So it’s rather daunting to realise that, yet again, I’m the only one going the wrong way and the music isn’t the prim classics but, rather, the thumping beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You.

After nearly swiping the chap behind me I retire to the side and await our next dance, an energetic samba, part of the group’s ambitious attempt to learn as many world dances as possible.

Aimee explains that the class’s benefits last far longer than the Friday afternoon session.

“There is evidence to prove that this kind of enjoyable and repetitive activity is good for people with Parkinson’s as well as the rest of us,” she says.

The smiling faces of the dancers prove that.

  • Classes are £5 each and take place on Friday afternoons. See, tel 01202 203630