Physical Health

Listening to Swan Lake Awakens the Memory of a Former Ballerina with Alzheimer’s

Image by Your Brain on Art

Image by Your Brain on Art

Music is a powerful tool for people suffering with neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's, as well as to promote recovery after stroke, practiced in a field known as NMT or Neurologic Music Therapy. It's been shown to boost cognition, stimulate neuronal rewiring and can be a catalyst for profoundly moving and mood boosting periods of lucidity and energy as it nostalgically rekindles forgotten memories such as in this video of a ballerina listening to Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

"We’re not crying, you’re crying. Music’s ability to improve the mood and boost cognitive skills in people with dementia has long been documented. “Music is no luxury to them, but a necessity,” wrote neurologist Oliver Sacks in his 2008 book Musicophilia. “It can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.” Such is the case in this video of former NYC ballet dancer Marta C. González who was given the opportunity to listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a piece of music we can assume she performed numerous times as shown in the interspersed archival clips from the 1960s. The music seems to awaken the choreography stored deep in her brain as she begins to spontaneously perform from her wheelchair. González founded and directed her own dance ensemble called Rosamunda.

The video was recorded last year in Valencia, Spain and published by Música para Despertar (Awakening Music), a non-profit organization that brings music to patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dimensia to help raise awareness of its therapeutic impact. (via Kottke)." Watch the video at COLOSSAL