Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music and the elderly ballerina's awe-inspiring reaction to it is truly one of the most magical things to have graced the internet this year.
A viral video of a former prima ballerina suffering from Alzheimer's visibly transforming after hearing the iconic Swan Lake theme is tugging at people's heartstrings. The combination of the legendary Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music and the elderly ballerina's awe-inspiring reaction to it is truly one of the most magical things to have graced the internet this year. Uploaded to social media by the Asociacion Musica para Despertar, a Spanish charity which uses the music of dementia patients' lives to improve their mood and memory, the video has been viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in just a matter of days.
According to Daily Mail, the video features Marta C González, who sadly passed away in 2019. Ms. González had reportedly been a prima ballerina with the New York Ballet in the 1960s, during which time she'd performed as part of the Swan Lake company. It all comes flooding back to her when a carer places headphones on her and begins playing Tschaikovsky's composition. A flicker of recognition and sadness sweeps across González's face as the heartrending melody to the Romantic ballet plays through her headphones.
Seated in a wheelchair, her hands instinctively reenact the graceful movements she had performed on stage in 1967 as González becomes utterly enthralled by the music. Her motions and facial expressions mirror those she'd mastered decades earlier as she loses herself in the performance until she appears to become visibly overwhelmed by it. The video, interspersed with clips of González performing in Swan Lake in the '60s, was originally filmed last year and captured the internet's attention after it was uploaded to social media by Música para Despertar.
Sharing the video on its Facebook page, the charity wrote: "A dancer will always be a dancer. First Dancer of the Ballet of New York in the 60s, put the emotion to the surface, listening, feeling, and flying along with one of the songs of her life: The lake of the Swans from Tchaikovsky." In a follow-up post, the organization shared some words by the staff at the care home in Valencia where González spent her final days. The post, translated from Spanish, reads: "A year ago at the residence where I work, we did a training in Music to Wake Up with Pepe Olmedo (founder of Musica para Despertar). In our center lived Marta, a woman who was the first dancer of New York City Ballet. She had Alzheimer's, and many things had [been] forgotten but when she listened to classical music and watched ballet videos, [she] transformed and lived her passion as if it were the real moment."
"In that training, Pepe taught us so much. He opened up so many possibilities to be able to work with music and Alzheimer's that [has changed the lives of] many of our residents. Today, a year later, a video recorded during that [event] goes viral... If Marta were here and aware of how far she has come with her ballet, she would be super happy. She loved ballet and her life was ballet. She died listening to ballet. [On the] last day and last minute in her room, the lake of swans was heard... Today, she gave us this beauty, she has touched us and made us remember it although there is no day in the residence [when] we do not remember her, she is missed so much... Thank you Marta for your example, for your life, for your passion for music and for ballet."
This has absolutely broken my heart this morning. The glimpses of memory , the sadness for those with or a loved one living with Alzheimer’s. Support @alzheimerssoc and @AlzResearchUK . If music and dance can restore or hold memory , how precious . https://t.co/TBN7mrI1Z9— Arlene Phillips CBE (@arlenephillips) November 9, 2020