AMID the relentless gloom of the pandemic it touched the hearts of millions all over the world, including Spanish actor Antonio Banderas.

A video of former New York Ballet prima ballerina Marta Gonzalez performing with her hands to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake  in a Valencian care home went viral in November last year, the memory of her movements seemingly unhindered by advanced dementia. 

Now, Scotland’s national ballet is launching a project aimed at those with dementia which aims to spread joy in the most challenging of times.


Scottish Ballet is asking people worldwide with dementia, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s to send a 20-second clip, with the footage to be used in three new dance films as part of the multi-artform project Haud Close.

Inspired by the ballet company’s film Haud Close Tae Me, created by filmmaker Eve McConnachie in 2017 and featuring poetry from Scots Makar Jackie Kay, the project will involve working remotely with care home residents and people living with those conditions to create the films.

READ MORE: The three biggest preventable risk factors for dementia according to experts 

Music is known for being particularly effective for people living with dementia, reducing anxiety and improving memory and the ability to concentrate while movement and dance can help those affected to develop a “physical vocabulary".


Choreographer Jack Webb, visual artist Brian Hartley, and storyteller and dramaturg Philippa Clark, will work remotely with participants from the classes and the pilot project to create the three new films and incorporate the submitted footage.

Catherine Cassidy, Scottish Ballet director of engagement, said: “Engagement work is vital in making a difference to communities, and we will continue to produce work that helps support people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“We are proud of the work that we are offering to people across all areas of society, and will continue to use dance and movement as a connector to improve people’s health, and inspire creativity.”

The deadline for submissions is February 22.

READ MORE: SNP urged to review 'unfair' care home contributions system for dementia affected 

A new series of online movement classes for people living with dementia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s is also being launched next month via Zoom.

Also planned is a pilot scheme in Erskine Home in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, which cares for veterans, offering small-scale digital movement sessions aimed at boosting physical and emotional health and wellbeing, particularly for those thought to be isolated and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the ballet company is expanding its Health at Hand programme offering movement and mindfulness resources to frontline NHS staff and keyworkers during the coronavirus pandemic by rolling it out to NHS 24 call-centre staff.

From today, a new programme of adult and children’s ballet classes will also go on sale with the opportunity to learn from Scottish Ballet’s own company dancers. 

READ MORE: Dementia experts hail 'exciting' new study suggesting preventative role for certain foods 

The courses will range from Absolute Beginners to Intermedi-ate, bringing ballet directly into people’s homes. 

Participants of all abilities will be able to practice and perfect their technique via Zoom, and there are dedicated classes for 10-14-year-olds and over 60s too.

Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet chief executive officer and artistic director, said:

“At Scottish Ballet, we are committed to connecting with our audiences and using dance to engage with our communities.


“We are dedicated to using our skills and expertise to support everyone, bringing the benefits of movement and the joy of dance to people of all ages and backgrounds during these challenging times.”

For more information on classes or to take part in the film project visit 

The Herald is backing Alzheimer Scotland's campaign which aims to reduce the financial costs faced by care home residents with dementia