Back in the '60s, Marta González was a New York City Ballet dancer. Despite developing Alzheimer's later in life, she never forgot her Swan Lake routine.


It's no secret that music and movement can help you connect with your body. But one viral video shows just how powerful that connection can be.

The clip shows Marta C. González, a prima ballerina who danced in the New York Ballet in the 1960s. In the video, González, who reportedly died in 2019 after developing Alzheimer's disease (the most common form of dementia), is seen listening to Swan Lake and reenacting — from her wheelchair — what appears to be the choreography to the ballet. Despite the effects of Alzheimer's disease on her memory, González seemed to immediately feel an emotional and physical connection to the music she once danced to on stage — and the video of her remembering the choreography is sure to give you goosebumps.

The video was originally shared by the Asociación Música para Despertar, a Spanish organization that works with Alzheimer's and dementia patients, using music to help improve their mood and memory. But it's now making the internet rounds thanks to famous fans such as Jennifer Garner, Antonio Banderas, and internationally renowned choreographer Arlene Phillips.

"Our innate connection to music, to movement, to the arts, is beautiful," Garner wrote in an Instagram post alongside the video of González. "This former ballerina's sense memory of Swan Lake — just does me in, it's so lovely. Thank you to everyone in the fight against Alzheimer's." (Related: The Amazing Ways Exercise Boosts Your Brain Power)

Banderas shared the video on Facebook, writing that he hoped it would serve as "a well-deserved recognition of [González's] art and her passion."

In her post, Phillips (known for her choreography in several hit musicals, including Grease and The Wizard of Oz) said González's "glimpses of memory" in the video "broke her heart" to watch. "If music and dance can restore or hold memory, how precious," she wrote.

While Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia do often lead to irreparable memory loss, it appears that music (and movement) can help preserve certain memories — which might explain why González remembered the Swan Lake choreography from her youth. In a 2017 cover story for Dimensions, a magazine published by the University of Washington's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, neuropsychologist Kristoffer Rhoads, Ph.D. explained the possible links between music, dance, and memory recall. (Related: Study Shows Exercise May Drastically Reduce Your Risk of Dementia)

"First of all, the complex cross-body movements of dancing recruit the procedural memory system and give it a workout," said Rhoads. Procedural memory is a form of long-term memory related to learned sequences of movement (think: motor skills like walking, driving a car, riding a bike, etc.), he explained. "It's also the form of memory that stays intact longer in people with Alzheimer's disease," he added, "and it may help people compensate for losses in short-term memory."

Alive Inside, a documentary that premiered in 2014, also explores the connection between music and memory. "Music has more ability to activate more parts of the brain than any other stimulus," neurologist Oliver Sacks, M.D., is heard saying in the documentary's trailer. By using music to activate certain pathways in the brain of someone with dementia, added Concetta Tomaino, executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, "we have a gateway to stimulate and reach somebody who's otherwise unreachable."

Intrigued? Here are some other fascinating ways music can affect your mind.