Dance/Movement Therapy program for memory-impaired clients.

A fundraising campaign for Kern Dance Alliance


KDA has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Inc. (ADAKC) by offering MemoryMOVES: DANCE + THERAPY for memory-impaired clients. In collaboration with registered Dance/Movement Therapist, Elena Rezai, MemoryMOVES will utilize Dance/Movement Therapy as a modality of support and offer clients, staff and caregivers alike, a glimpse into the transformative power of movement.


MemoryMOVES participants must be currently enrolled in the ADAKC Day Program to participate in this initial MemoryMOVES program.  Individuals interested in enrolling in the ADAKC Adult Day program can contact ADAKC Family Services Dept at 665-8871 for specific admission criteria and costs.  For more information about all of ADAKC services and to take a virtual tour visit


Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) offers many benefits for individuals experiencing the effects of Dementia and Alzheimer’s and is commonly utilized with memory-impaired patients. According to the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) “DMT participation enhances coping skills for this population…compensates for sensory deficits…” and “engages the sensory systems and stimulates the physical, emotional and cognitive areas of functioning.” (ADTA, 2016). DMT helps increase socialization and interaction in a population that can find itself becoming increasingly isolated and frustrated with decreased cognitive abilities. It facilitates mind/body connection, presence, and functional mobility and flexibility, and can help mitigate symptoms commonly associated with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, such as agitation and sadness. Dancing often elicits positive memories, and can help clients recall joyous moments, increasing quality of life and leading to brightened affect. This 7-week program aims to utilize DMT as a modality to support all of the above-mentioned goals, and to offer clients, staff and caregivers alike a glimpse into the transformative power of movement.

Additional opportunities will be presented for ADAKC staff and caregivers to learn more about DMT and its benefits, both with those they care for and in their own lives.


All DMT groups will take place in the ADAKC main facility in one of the rooms available to clients. Groups generally take place in a circle, with participants facing each other, sitting in chairs to offer stability and balance, although clients may stand up to dance during sessions.

  • 10 minutes: Check In and Body Part Warm-Up.
    The therapist uses this time to observe each participant’s movement patterns and affect, and may do movement and verbal check-ins, such as asking participants to offer an opening movement or share one word about their current mood. Clients improvisationally warm up every part of their body, keeping in mind that range of motion may be limited. The Dance/Movement Therapist may encourage clients to stretch, make eye contact, or increase range of motion during the warm-up.
  • 20-30 minutes: Movement and Thematic Development
    This forms the majority of the session, and is used to address specific goals of the session through movement. The therapist may utilize a number of DMT modalities to support goals, such as use of props, improvisation, use of rhythm and repetition, and a combination of dance and verbal processing.
  • 5-10 minutes: Cool Down and Closing
    The therapist will facilitate a body cool-down and closing, that will include breath-work and consciously slowing down movements to bring the group to a natural close. Movement and verbal cues may also be used, such as asking each participant to share a closing movement or positive word.


  • Increased cognitive functioning and recall
    Supporting DMT modality: use of movement pattern and ritual (consistent and predictable opening and closing patterns of groups.)
  • Functional mobility and increased range of motion
    Supporting DMT modality: Effort modulation*, use of props.
  • Mind/body connection
    Supporting DMT modality: grounding, orienting to time/space through movement. Verbal identification of mental process while moving.
  • Relief from depression and anxiety/increased joy and happiness
    Supporting DMT modality: effort modulation, use of music, group rhythmic action
  • Brightened affect
    Supporting DMT modality: Effort modulation
  • Increased social interaction
    Supporting DMT modality: group rhythmic action, use of props

**All sessions will support all of the above goals, although specific sessions may focus more on one particular goal.

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About the Organization

Kern Dance Alliance is a nonprofit dance advocacy organization supporting and promoting dance + the arts in Kern County, Ca.