Healing and development from… the arts

This afternoon, The Hub would like to draw your attention to the (positive) effects arts participation has on the human body. Exposure is certainly nice, but we focus specifically today on the actual doing. And before going further, these come by way of NASAA – the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.


First, dance. Without being overly general, all it takes is a look at a professional dancer to know dance is, at least physically, good for you. But recent data from Australia shows that older adults who participate in dance classes see “increases in physical, cognitive and emotional well-being and as well as a general sense of achievement.” See study here.

Closer to home, those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease can seek symptom relief through participation (there’s that word again) in dance classes from Ballet Spartanburg (right, dancer Charlotte Lanning). The company received the 2018 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts yesterday in part because of offering its community classes like this, which can also help those who have experienced a stroke or disorders like autism, dementia, or multiple sclerosis. Ballet Spartanburg offers the only course of this type in the Upstate, and it’s led by Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo.

Winifred Walsh, who leads a Parkinson’s support group in Spartanburg, had this to say about the course in her support letter for the company’s Verner Awards nomination:

To receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease at age 53 is a life-changer … A friend urged me to join Spartanburg’s PD Support Group and the Dance for PD class offered by Ballet Spartanburg. I went and I was horrified at first look. I thought, ‘I am not like those people!’ But curiosity got the better of me and I stayed and have stayed for some nine years now. And guess what? I am exactly like those people, people with Parkinson’s who are not wasting time on self-pity … Ballet Spartanburg Artistic Director Carlos Agudelo has set the bar high for our teachers who find joy in our attempts, who rejoice with us in our successes, who laugh with us often … Outreach seems such a simple term for such complex blessings to me and to others who have movement and balance disorders. We offer gratitude to Ballet Spartanburg for improving our lives through dance, and also through love. We are not merely people with Parkinson’s. Ballet Spartanburg has made us dancers.”

Learn more about the additional benefits of this program by clicking here.


Second, music. The National Endowment for the Arts is talking music training, which is how people get ready for … participation (that’s a hat trick). Two recent articles “find that music education not only strengthens creativity but also improves brain functions related to language development, attention, visuospatial perception, planning and other executive functions, and short-term and working memory.”

Music training can be found, almost literally, everywhere. But lessons can be costly, to say nothing of other potential barriers. But four of the professional orchestras the South Carolina Arts Commission helps fund offer the interactive Link Up program from Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute. Link Up partners orchestras with schools (home, private, and public) or school districts to offer an interactive musical curriculum in schools that teach students lessons in theory and can teach them how to use the recorder. The program usually culminates with a trip to see the professionals perform locally, with a twist: during the Link Up concert, the students can play recorders along with the musicians on stage!

The four South Carolina orchestras that offered Link Up concerts during the 2017/2018 school year are the Aiken and Charleston symphonies and South Carolina (Columbia) and Spartanburg philharmonics.


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