Dance for Life 2019

JCC Social Adult Day Care Dance Program

Developed & Led by Mr. Kelly Gilmore

These pictures feature members of the

Jewish Community Center’s Social Adult Day Care Dance Program

Many of the participants in the Adult Day Care Program have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia or face other health challenges.

Learning the art of ballroom through weekly dance exercise has helped these individuals improve their balance and coordination.

Repetition of movement while practicing a variety of dance patterns improves cognitive skills such as recognition and recall. Dance helps us all to develop and sharpen our skills of concentration and mental focus. 

This dance project also allows participants to experience artistic self-expression through dance while enjoying movement to music; providing a creative and cultural experience that would not, in most cases, otherwise be accessible to them.

This dance project also provides all participants the opportunity to interact with others in a social setting like this dance party held at the JCC on Arthur Kill Road in Staten Island.

Studies have shown that sensory experiences created through physical/auditory activities such as dance and music give people with Alzheimer’s positive emotions they may have previously lost the ability to experience. 

“Recent studies have specifically investigated ballroom dancing as a possible means to prevent or slow the progression of dementia. Most of these studies found that ballroom dancing has significant benefits for seniors.” 

Quote from the “Alzheimer’s Project Training Workbook” created by Judith Simon with Diane Jarmolow and Brandee Selck.

2019 Dance for Life Videos

Three short videos featuring Mr. Gilmore conducting one of these weekly dance classes.

Funding from a DCA Art Grant was used in part by Mr. Gilmore to conduct an additional dance project for the Jewish Community Center on Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island. This additional project was an eight-week Ballroom and Latin dance course which was open to all interested seniors on Friday mornings in September and October of this year.

The 2019 Dance for Life program was made possible in part by public funding provided by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs through a 2019 DCA Premier Art Fund Grant administered by Staten Island Arts, awarded to Mr. Gilmore as a teaching artist, as well as by funding provided through the JCC.

Celebrating Life Through All The Years

1. Dance helps to improve balance.

This benefit is evident in a study of a group of social dancers from the Bronx, who were an average age of 80 years old. These seniors danced an average of four days a month and had been dancing for an average of 30 years. When compared with a control group of non-dancing seniors, the dancers weren’t stronger than the non-dancers, but they had better balance and “longer steps and strides reflecting a better walking pattern.” This is what helps to prevent falls. Dance is also linked to improved “balance confidence,” when seniors are less afraid of falling and more confident in their stability.

2. Dance improves strength and gait.

One study found that a group of senior citizens who participated twice a week, for ten weeks, in an Argentine tango class had increased lower body strength and a longer, stronger walking stride compared to a similar group who exercised by walking for the same amount of time. Studies have found that seniors who have previously fallen or who are afraid of falling can gain confidence and strength through dance.

3. Dance helps improve cognitive abilities.

In a group of older dancers studied in Sweden in 2010, seniors who had danced on an amateur level for an average of 16 years were found to have better “reaction time, motor behavior and cognitive performance.” Dance often requires memorizing routines and movements. When done over and over, for many years, these movements can become second-nature and a part of our everyday movement, even when we’re not dancing.

4. Dancing has social benefits.

Participants in dance programs find it to be a fun experience. Because of this, seniors are less likely to drop out and more likely to reap the benefits of the program than they would with an ordinary exercise program. Dance can also help prevent loneliness and isolation among seniors.