Hackney and Earhart (2009) Effects of Dance on Movement Control in Parkinson’s Disease: A Comparison of Argentine Tango and American Ballroom

literature type:

journal article


Madeleine E. Hackney and Gammon M. Earhart. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 2009; Vol. 41, No. 6: pp 475-481.


The basal ganglia may be selectively activated during rhythmic, metered movement like tango dancing, which may improve motor control in individuals with Parkinson disease (PD). Other partner dances may be suitable and preferable for those with PD. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of tango, waltz/foxtrot and no intervention on functional motor control in individuals with PD.

This study employed a randomised, between-subject, prospective, repeated measures design.

Fifty-eight people with mild-moderate PD participated.

Participants were randomly assigned to Tango, Waltz/Foxtrot or no intervention (Control). Those in the dance groups attended 1-hour classes 2 times per week, completing 20 lessons within thirteen weeks. Balance, functional mobility, forward and backward walking were evaluated before and after the intervention.

Both dance groups improved more than the Control group, which did not improve. Tango and Waltz/Foxtrot significantly improved on the Berg Balance Scale, six minute walk distance, and backward stride length. Tango improved as much or more than those in Waltz/Foxtrot on several measures.

Tango may target deficits associated with PD more than Waltz/Foxtrot, but both dances may benefit balance and locomotion.



arts categories:


population(s) served:

older adults