Dance for Connections

Organization Associated with Program
Dance for Connections
137 Wiswall rd.
Newton, Massachusetts 02459

Based in Newton, Massachusetts, Dance for Connections brings high-quality dance programs to older adults and teaches caregivers working with older people living with neurocognitive disorders resulting in memory loss how to communicate more effectively through dance and movement. Dance for Connections uses music, props, humor, and everyday movement to encourage older adults to express themselves, have fun, and experience a greater sense of vitality, wellbeing, and connection to others through dance and movement. Participants are invited, encouraged, and stimulated to create movement and to contribute their movement to the group movement with the inspiration of music. Dance for Connections takes place in a variety of locations serving older people, such as long-term care facilities and adult day centers, as well as community spaces such as libraries. All classes and workshops are led by a professional dance therapist or teaching artist. Program activities are designed to accommodate a range of physical abilities and have been made accessible to participants with disabilities.

Dance for Connections also provides professional development to other dance therapists and teaching artists, conducting training in how to bring dance to older adults and those who are living with Alzheimer's disease or other neurocognitive disorders.

Program History

Dance for Connections launched its programming for older adults in 2007 and now serves approximately 500 older people living with neurocognitive disorders resulting in memory loss as well as their care partners each year. This program has spurred the development of strong community partnerships with local aging institutions and facilities that serve older adults as well as the American Therapeutic Recreation Association and Pioneer Network, among others. Stable community relationships and growing national partnerships have enabled Dance for Connections to better serve participating older adults and caregivers. 

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Program staff conduct interviews of participants and keep records of attendance. The program is evaluated based on the number of people actively engaged as well as changes in the participants’ movement and range.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

To ensure high quality and appropriate dance activities for your participants, make sure to hire a dance therapist or professional teaching artist to help you design and implement your program.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Participate in a Class
Arts Discipline: Dance, Music
Target Audience: Frail Older Adults, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities
Program Setting: Adult Day Care, Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Assisted Living, Healthcare - Long Term Care, Healthcare - Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Library
Program Service Area: Rural, Suburban, Urban, International Outreach
Type of Practice: Promising Practices