3 questions to Yvan Demers who has been living with Parkinson’s for 6 years
On International Dance Day, we met with Yvan Demers, a dance passionate who talks about his daily life with Parkinson’s disease with poetry and humor. He delivers a touching and inspiring story with a nice dose of good mood.
To begin, could you quickly introduce yourself?
Yvan: my name is Yvan Demers, I will be 60 years old in a couple of weeks and I have been living with my friend Parki for the past six years. When I finished my career 4 years ago, I “re-processed” my priorities. I built a diversified program including dancing. By the way, on this International Dance Day, I would like to celebrate all the inspiring dancers on the planet. Personally, I’m more of a dancer inspired and animated by various types of music. If the rhythm matches my mood, I allow myself to flow, my body softens. It’s like drinking the magic potion of Panoramix. You will understand my description if I tell you that I liked the adventures of Asterix.
How does dancing fit into your daily life with Parkinson’s?
Yvan: when my friend Parki Rigidity wakes me up in the morning, I have the choice to either try again to sleep with Parki Rigidity or to get up. You have to know that Parki Rigidity is 80 years old. He gets up slowly and brushes against the wall. It is a question of balance. He feels a contraction under his left foot. He hardly gets dressed without making too much noise so that he doesn’t wake up his spouse. But when it is barely 5 o’clock, it is too early for medication. Parki Rigidity is very invasive. So nothing better than turning on my wireless headphones and choosing a playlist on Deezer to keep him away! Parki Rigidity is the person who sits on the edge of the dance floor and doesn’t like to move for all sorts of good reasons. I then randomly look for the rhythm that will make me move. And here we go! I quickly find my flexibility, my balance and my fluidity. I surprise myself. For a few moments, I am thirty years old and I move on my improvised dance floor between the table, the counter and the sofa. Parki Rigidity is tired of it. He leaves to rest. I am sympathetic to his cause, but after all, it’s my body, it’s my choice. It’s motivating to see yourself move gracefully (let’s say the word gracefully is a subjective and personal assessment).
This motivation stimulates my energy, but I can’t dance all day because when I dance I “forget everything”. I live in the present moment. A kind of mindfulness found in meditation. At certain times of the day, my head starts moving like the big-headed dolls mounted on the dashboard of a car. It is Parki Trembling who has just joined me again. He is the one who makes me waddle from one side to the other. However, a good musical rhythm and a little room to move, then Parki Trembling returns to sit on a bench.
Dancing is part of a whole in my daily routine with Parki. For example, cardio workouts influence my future dance moves and vice versa when I dance I improve my coordination and flexibility for more efficient workouts. The same principle applies when I do yoga and meditation where breathing becomes more important, etc. I like the variety and I am aware that it will evolve over time… but I believe that dancing is here to stay.
And how did this passion for dance come about and what does it bring you?
Yvan: recently, a participant in a class asked me if I had been in Cirque du Soleil. My career was spent sitting in an office and I had no time or energy to move at the end of the day. Flattering or joking comment? Actually, I don’t care. At 60, with medication and a program that includes dancing, I have the chance to be 30 and 80 in the same day. Imagine the benefits: the experience and wisdom of an elder, mixed with the energy and flexibility of a young adult. As for the 80 years that my friend Parki gives me, it reminds me of the chance I have to move and especially to dance with the best of what’s left.
A little word for the end?
Yvan: on this international dance day, I thank all the inspiring dancers. Let yourself be inspired and dance.
As for me, my dance style is creative dance. I don’t really have a style, but I like Carol Jones’ creative dance and movement sessions. It inspires me to do new tricks. She’s been dancing for about 40 years. She takes some of my moves and suggests variations that challenge my coordination, flexibility and balance. The results are sometimes amazing and elegant.
And don’t forget, in this Parkinson’s disease awareness month, you can make a difference by donating virtual tulips. It’s easy, just visit CanadaHelps.org and select the “Virtual Tulips” tab under “Assign your donation to one of the funds created by this organization”.