Former Ballerina With Alzheimer’s Listens To Swan Lake And Starts Dancing Again

by : Emily Brown on : 09 Nov 2020 16:21
Former Ballerina With Alzheimer’s Listens To Swan Lake And Starts Dancing AgainMúsicaparaDespertarAlzheimer/Awakening Music/YouTube

The music of Swan Lake encouraged a woman with Alzheimer’s to start dancing again years after she performed with the New York Ballet. 

Marta C. Gonzalez had been a prima ballerina in the 1960s with the New York Ballet – one of the foremost dance companies in the world – but began suffering with Alzheimer’s later in life.


She resided at a care home in Valencia until she passed away in 2019, but the video of her dancing went viral after being shared by the Asociacion Musica para Despertar, a Spanish charity which uses the music to encourage memories and improve the mood of those suffering with Alzheimer’s.

See the video below:

The footage was taken last year, when Marta was handed a pair of headphones to listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Almost as soon as the music began to play a look of recognition swept across the elderly woman’s face, taking her back in time to when she performed on stage in 1967.


The former dancer was sat in a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop her using her arms to perform the choreography she remembered from years gone by. The incredible video is interspersed with clips of the dancer during her original performance of Swan Lake in the 1960s, ClassicFM reports.

After her performance in the care home came to an end Marta was met with applause by those watching, and she told a care worker the music had made her ’emotional’.

Former ballerina dancing to swan lakeMúsicaparaDespertarAlzheimer/Awakening Music/YouTube

The Asociacion Musica para Despertar, which translates to the Music Association for Awakening, wrote ‘The power of music is immeasurable’ alongside the video.


The charity added (translated):

A ballerina will always be a ballerina… the excitement to blossom; listening, feeling and flying along with one of the songs of her life.

Former ballerina dancing to swan lakeMúsicaparaDespertarAlzheimer/Awakening Music/YouTube

Marta’s performance was posted on Facebook yesterday, November 8, and in a matter of hours it has been shared 34,000 times. Among those praising the video was actor Antonio Banderas, and choreographer and theatre director Arlene Phillips.


Phillips said the video had ‘absolutely broken her heart’, adding:

The glimpses of memory, the sadness for those with or a loved one living with Alzheimer’s.

If music and dance can restore or hold memory, how precious.

According to Alzheimers.org, music therapy can help people who have the disease to manage and reduce agitation, isolation, depression and anxiety, as well as help those who may find it difficult to communicate verbally.


In turn, music can often reduce the use of medication for patients.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Alzheimers, Dancing, Now


MúsicaparaDespertarAlzheimer/Awakening Music/YouTube and 2 others
  1. MúsicaparaDespertarAlzheimer/Awakening Music/YouTube

    First Dancer - New York Ballet - 60's - Wake Up Music

  2. ClassicFM

    Ballerina with Alzheimer’s listens to Swan Lake, memory of ballet comes back to her

  3. Alzheimer's.org

    Music sessions in dementia care: ‘It sparks memories of first loves, favourite holidays, friends and family’