American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 109–127 | Cite as

A Study on the Effects of Argentine Tango as a Form of Partnered Dance for those with Parkinson Disease and the Healthy Elderly

  • Madeleine E. HackneyEmail author
  • Svetlana Kantorovich
  • Gammon M. Earhart


Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths in older adults (Murphy 2000), and they can lead to fear of falling, reduced quality of life, withdrawal from activities, and injury. Changes in joint ranges of motion, strength, sensory processing, and sensorimotor integration all contribute to reduced balance stability with increasing age and these changes are paralleled in those with Parkinson Disease (PD). Interventions, such as traditional exercises tailored specifically for seniors and/or individuals with PD, have addressed balance and gait difficulties in an attempt to reduce fall rates with mixed, undocumented results. Argentine tango dancing has recently emerged as a promising non-traditional approach to ameliorating balance and gait problems among elderly individuals. The goal of this study was to determine whether the functional mobility benefits noted in elders following a tango dancing program might also extend to older individuals with PD. We compared the effects of tango to those of traditional exercise on functional mobility in individuals with and without PD. We predicted that the functional mobility and quality of life gains noted with Argentine tango would be greater than those noted with traditional strength/flexibility exercise. Thirty-eight subjects (19 control and 19 with PD) were assigned to 20 hour-long exercise or tango classes that were completed within 13 weeks. Although all groups showed gains in certain measures, only the Parkinson Tango group improved on all measures of balance, falls and gait. Moreover, upon terminating the program the Parkinson Tango group was more confident about balance than the Parkinson Exercise group. In psychosocial terms, both groups largely enjoyed their experiences because the classes fostered community involvement and became a source of social support for the members. Our results suggest that Argentine tango is an appropriate, enjoyable, and beneficial activity for the healthy elderly and those with PD and that tango may convey benefits not obtained with a more traditional exercise program.


Tango Parkinson disease Balance 



We thank Rachel Zapf, Rebecca Levin and Rachel Katz for their assistance with this study. This work was supported by a grant from the Marian Chace Foundation to Madeleine Hackney and a grant from the American Parkinson Disease Association to Gammon Earhart.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Madeleine E. Hackney
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Svetlana Kantorovich
    • 2
  • Gammon M. Earhart
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Program in Physical TherapyWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Department of NeurologyWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  5. 5.Program in Physical TherapyWashington University School of MedicineCampus Box 8502, 4444 Forest Park Blvd.St. LouisUSA

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