An interview with Donna Schoenherr from Ballet4Life

An interview with Donna Schoenherr from Ballet4Life on September 24, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.

Please tell me a little about your background.


I am from Rochester NY and grew up with four siblings, loving parents, and had a happy childhood. My early and formative training in Dance was received at the Botsford School in Rochester and then I went on to NYC to train under scholarship with various master teachers before embarking on my early career as a professional dancer. Later on, I transitioned into becoming a Director, Teacher, and Choreographer in Dance and Theatre. In 2004, I founded® in London, which was a pioneering organization providing top -quality dance tuition for adult learners. In 2014, I founded Move into Wellbeing ®- a registered charity that provides structured and enjoyable Dance & Movement classes for people living with Parkinson’s and for those with other mobility and neurological issues. This is a living legacy to my beloved father Gerard E. Schoenherr who had Parkinson’s for nearly thirty years.


Can you tell me more about your advocacy?


My advocacy centers around providing eight to twelve weekly specially designed and crafted Dance & Movement classes in person, live-streaming classes, online classes, plus a 24/7 accessible online classroom for people living with Parkinson’s. Additionally, I give talks, workshops, interviews, and I speak on panels about how wonderful, effective, and important Dance & Movement is for people with Parkinson’s. I work with the local government officials, churches, clubs, schools, care homes, local Rep for Parkinson’s UK, and other Parkinson’s related charities/organisations. MiW is a member of Dance for PD® program and lastly, we are very active on social media with topics such as: Parkinson’s related news, trials, research, and support.


Additionally, I promote awareness via Ballet4life and have many volunteers from this organization helping at MiW events and fundraisers. We also have people with Parkinson’s attending our classes at Ballet4life.


What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


My passion is Dance and by utilizing my skills and experience of over four decades in the field, I aim to provide joy, relief, better quality of daily life, social networks, for anyone who lives with Parkinson’s and also for their family members, partners, and carers. I got involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure by the fact that my beloved father had Parkinson’s for nearly thirty years.



What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?

I, along with my team, witness first-hand the joy, confidence, and sense of belonging /inclusion that our classes provide. We have also witnessed people have improvement in their physical and mental health. It is also clear that having this experience to look forward to each week is highly motivational and has a positive after -effect on the participants and their circle of friends and family members.


What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?


We continue to expand our program, train more teachers, recruit more volunteers, and hope to reach many more people in the future.


What events do you participate in?


We perform at an annual fundraiser showcase at a local theatre, we have stalls at local festivals and town hall meetings, we attend events geared for small charities, we help to promote any Parkinsons related events with our members. We attend award ceremony events.


How does your advocacy also assist caregivers?


Caregivers are welcome to the Move into Wellbeing® classes, provided there is amble room at the particular venue. For the online classes caregivers are always most welcome to participate.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


People can send us an email. Website and other social media platform links are here below:



Twitter: @Movein2Welbng



To see our work in action:



How can others also become advocates for awareness?


This is a very specific and somewhat complex situation. If someone has a loved one living with Parkinson’s, my suggestion for advocacy of awareness is to learn as much as possible. Contact local support groups, talk to the GP / Neurologist involved, find out if any classes in music, dance, martial arts, sports, creative arts for people with Parkinson’s exist in the area. Also, I suggest ask many questions, hang up flyers, attend conferences, symposiums, write the local council person or Representative/Congress person…etc. All is depending upon each person’s scenario of course.


What would you do if a loved one is diagnosed with PD?


If someone you love is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, do as much as you can as soon as you can to learn more, to get involved, to attend support groups, to read about it, to get your loved ones to groups and activities, and/or to get help, care, and support. Becoming isolated at home is often a great worry and reality so even facilitating and attending any online activities, social hours, meetings is very helpful. All can change quickly and without warning, so each day is important.


If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?


Let’s all do our best to make each day a bit better for anyone we know dealing with the challenges, pain, and disorientation that Parkinson’s may bring and let’s not give up hope and belief that a cure is getting much closer!