It goes without saying that music and exercise can help you better understand your body. However, one well-known film reveals how powerful that bond may be.

Marta C. González, a prima dancer with the New York Ballet in the 1960s, appears in the video. González, who died in 2019 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, is shown in the video reenacting what appears to be a Swan Lake dance while listening to the music in her wheelchair.

Despite the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on her memory, González appeared to instantly perceive an emotional and bodily connection to the music she had danced to on stage; the clip of her remembering the routine is guaranteed to give you chills.

The video was initially published by the Asociación Msica para Despertar, a Spanish organization that works with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and utilizes music to help improve their mood and memory. However, it is now going viral on the internet thanks to celebrity fans such as Jennifer Garner, Antonio Banderas, and world-renowned choreographer Arlene Phillips.

The González video was shared on Instagram with the remark, “Our intrinsic connection to music, movement, and the arts is incredible.” “This former ballerina’s sense memory of Swan Lake completely melts my heart.” We appreciate your involvement in the Alzheimer’s battle.”

Banderas shared the video on Facebook, saying he hoped it would be “a well-deserved honor of [González’s] inventiveness and devotion.”

According to Phillips (known for choreographing multiple successful musicals, including Grease and The Wizard of Oz), González’s “glimpses of reminiscence” throughout the film “broke her heart” to see. She commented, “How priceless if music and dance can hold or restore memory.”

González may have remembered the Swan Lake dance from her childhood because, while Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can cause irreversible memory loss, music (and movement) appears to be able to assist preserve some memories.

In a 2017 cover article for Dimensions, a magazine of the University of Washington’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, neuropsychologist Kristoffer Rhoads, Ph.D., addressed the potential links between music and dance and memory recall.

According to Rhoads, the complicated cross-body motions of dancing “first and foremost recruit and exercise the procedural memory system.” He defines procedural memory as a sort of long-term memory associated with learnt movement sequences (consider motor abilities like walking, driving a car, riding a bike, etc.).

Furthermore, he noted, “it is the form of memory that lasts longer in persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and it may benefit individuals in compensating for short-term memory problems.”

In the 2014 film Alive Inside, the relationship between music and memory is also explored. In the documentary’s trailer, neurologist Oliver Sacks, M.D. is heard saying, “music has more ability to engage more sections of the brain than any other stimulation.”

Concetta Tomaino, executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, added, “We have a portal to stimulate and reach someone who is otherwise unreachable by using music to activate certain neuronal pathways in the brains of dementia patients.”