Rafi Eldor is a Professor of Economics from Israel who received some life changing and potentially crippling news in 2008. When he was with a work colleague one day they noticed that he was walking strangely and that the left side of his body was not behaving normally. Eldor then went to consult his doctor and a neurologist, and it was then that his world was turned upside down: he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Doctors told him that he had five normal years left to live, and beyond that he would need supervision and care.
In a 2015 TEDx talk, seven years after that diagnosis, Eldor described his unique response to living with the debilitating condition. He shared how he was in denial about his condition for almost two years, until one day he looked himself in the mirror and decided he needed to take action. Aside from a course of medicine for treating Parkinson’s, he began searching for alternative therapies. He tried swimming, walking and Tai Chi before realizing that he should try one of the things he enjoys most: dancing. After a tough first class, where Eldor found that his mind was willing but his body was not able, he knew that he was in for a challenge, and this suited him perfectly. In his talk, the Harvard graduate stated that he is not afraid of hard work so he applied himself to mastering ballroom dancing.
Parkinson’s disease sufferers often have hunched postures and shortened steps. Rafi Eldor found that dancing was the perfect remedy to these issues, as it promoted a tall and strong posture with longer steps. Dance requires coordination, repetition and learning from mirroring instructors — all excellent ways to curb the degenerative effects of the disease.
Eldor capped off his talk by performing a moving dance number with his friend and dance partner Anna Aronov. He chose to dance to the song Sky Fall, as this signified the moment when he learned his world had been turned upside down. At the end the audience rose as one to applaud his inspiring story of bravery and determination.