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Pas de deux

Concordia teams up with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens to research the benefits of dance therapy
April 23, 2013
By Christian Durand

Photos courtesy of Les Grands Ballets
Photos courtesy of Les Grands Ballets

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is looking to bring the beauty and benefits of dance to an audience outside of the theatre. On Tuesday, April 23, Les Grands officially announced the creation of the National Centre for Dance Therapy. One of the primary goals of this initiative is to promote the numerous mental and physical benefits of dance to the public.

“This is about expanding our mission,” explains Christian Sénéchal, director of the National Centre for Dance Therapy. “Dance is not an elite activity; it can be integrated into the lives of everyday people and be a key element to improving one’s lifestyle.”

As one of their first pilot projects, Les Grands have teamed up with Louis Bherer, scientific director at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, to study whether dance can improve physical and cognitive health in elderly populations. Funded by Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services, this research project will involve hundreds of seniors over three years. Research is set to start early this summer and studies will take place at the PERFORM Centre and the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM).

“The studies I have conducted with elderly populations in the past have clearly demonstrated the numerous biophysiological benefits that exercise has on cognition, memory, attention and intellectual speed,” says Bherer.


The National Centre for Dance Therapy is also collaborating with the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) to create projects aimed at integrating dance and movement therapists into the health care system. 

“This is a very ambitious project,” says Bherer. “It involves several major Montreal health institutions and looks to incorporate a multidisciplinary approach to improving lifestyle. These are precisely the types of collaborations Concordia and the PERFORM Centre want to foster as we continue to expand our research mandate.”

The launch of the new centre coincides with National Dance Week (April 22 to 29) and the Québec Danse event, meant to promote dance as a key contributor to the social and cultural fabric of Quebec society.

Related links:
•    The PERFORM Centre
•    Les Grands Ballets Canadiens
•    Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal
•    National Dance Week
•    Québec Danse 

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