Amazing moment former ballerina with dementia remembers routine to Swan Lake

Marie Claire Dorking
·3-min read

Watch: The moment a former ballerina hears Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

The moment a former ballerina with dementia heard Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and remembered the choreography she danced in her youth, was captured in a moving video that has gone viral.

Marta C Gonzalez, who died in 2019, had been a prima ballerina with the New York Ballet in the 1960s.

The emotional moment was shared by the Asociacion Musica para Despertar, a Spanish charity which uses the music of dementia patients’ lives to improve their mood and memory.

A video of a former ballerina with dementia remembering her dance moves is going viral. (PA Real Life)
A video of a former ballerina with dementia remembering her dance moves is going viral. (PA Real Life)

In the video, Gonzalez listens to the music through a pair of headphones and before long she begins to replicate the choreography she danced to decades ago.

After finishing her performance, she is met with applause by those present at the care home in Valencia.

She is then comforted as she tells a care worker she is “emotional”.

“The power of music is immeasurable,” the charity said. “May she rest in peace.”

Actor Antonio Banderas shared the clip on Facebook, writing that he hoped the video would serve as “a well-deserved recognition of her art and her passion”.

Read more: Grandson creates 'water sweets' to prevent dehydration after caring for grandmother with dementia

Dementia is a persistent neurocognitive disorder that impacts a person’s mood and memory.

According to the NHS, dementia is not a single illness, but a group of symptoms caused by damage to the brain.

Dementia is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease and is often seen in those aged over 65.

Alzheimer’s Society research reveals that the condition affects more than 850,000 people in the UK each year and this figure looks set to increase to over one million by 2025.

There are a number of early signs of dementia to look out for, and although there is currently no cure for the condition, research suggests that music may help to alleviate symptoms for people living with dementia and make them feel happier.

Last year, the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) and the Utley Foundation found that music therapy can help improve a person’s physical health and mental wellbeing.

Read more: What are the risk factors for dementia?

A number of other studies have shown how music can benefit those suffering from not only memory loss syndrome, but other physical conditions too.

Last year, the UK’s health secretary said dance sessions should be prescribed to more dementia patients, to prevent “over-medicalised” treatment.

“In particular, I want to combat over-medicalisation and dishing out pills when it's not in the best interests of the patient,” Matt Hancock said.

Read more: Couple gets married for second time after husband's dementia caused him to forget their first wedding

“There is increasing evidence suggesting music can bring calm to people with dementia by reducing agitation and supporting those affected to cope better with symptoms. This is the kind of personalised care that I fully endorse as a key part of our NHS long term plan.”

The call came after a previous study found that giving patients personal music playlists resulted in a 60% reduction in the need for medication.

Meanwhile a US study found that seniors with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias could benefit from listening to personalised music playlists to help them cope with the anxiety of living with their condition.

Anyone with concerns about dementia can visit Alzheimer’s Research UK or call the helpline on 0300 111 5555.

Alternatively you can visit Alzheimer’s Society or contact the dementia connect support line on 0333 150 3456.

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

Watch: Care home patient suffering from dementia devastated her daughter can’t come inside for a hug

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