A former ballerina with Alzheimer's hears 'Swan Lake' and bursts into dance in her wheelchair

Sometimes a video comes along that yanks us right us out of the frustrating fray or mundane monotony of the moment and reminds us of the miraculous gift that life truly is. This is one of those.

Marta Cinta González Saldaña was an accomplished ballerina when she was young. Now, in her waning years, she suffers from Alzheimer's. A viral video of González Saldaña shows how she reacts to hearing the music from Swan Lake—a ballet she had performed decades ago. Alternating scenes show her dancing from her wheelchair and a ballerina performing the dance on stage. (Some versions of the video have stated or implied that the young ballerina is González Saldaña herself. It's not.)

The contrast of the stage performance and her memories clearly bursting forth in her face and body movements is incredibly moving. It's amazing how music, dance, art—the universal language of humanity—can remain, even when other memories fade or get locked away.

Just watch, sound up:


Seriously though. Break out the tissues.

The video came about as part of a study being done by the Spanish organization "Music to Awaken," which studies how music impacts patients with dementia. Pepe Olmedo, a psychologist and director of the organization, told Brut that she was selected for the study because of her background as a dancer. "We searched for the songs she'd danced on when she was young," he said, "even songs where she was the prima ballerina. Luckily, we had writings of hers from the past where she recounted several songs. In the end, the day when we met her, she appeared sad, nervous at times, and we didn't know how effective this would be. But as she listened to 'Swan Lake'—that was the first song she listened to—she completely transformed, and it seems like part of her mind traveled to another moment of her life."

Olmedo pointed out that science has proven that some areas of the brain related to musical memory are less damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer's than other parts of the brain. "Our brain is wired to be receptive to music," he says, and "music is totally linked to emotions." It's the emotion that Olmedo says is important for people with dementia to feel to help connect them with the moments in their lives.

Ballerina with Alzheimer's Gets Back Memory of Her Swan Lake Dance Routine www.youtube.com

Absolutely amazing. What a beautiful reminder of the magic of music and a hopeful study for people with loved ones who feel like they are slipping away. No matter how crazy our political chaos gets or how tedious our daily tasks feel, these examples of raw human beauty can help bring us back to what truly matters.

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