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Reflections on Tango as an Aide for Parkinson's Patients

by Robert Abrams
February 17, 2008
St. Louis, MO
Eric Nagourney wrote a useful short form article in the February 12, 2008 NY Times, p. F6 in which he describes a study, led by Madeleine Hackney of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, that provided Tango classes to one group of Parkinson's patients and exercise classes to another group. This study showed that Tango students demonstrated better balance afterwards, while the exercise group did not.

This article is important because it alerts dance teachers and studios to a potential new application of their services. It also provides an opening for some dance obsessed researcher to get a grant to study whether Tango or Foxtrot produces better balance in Parkinson's patients.

As a criticism, the article never mentions which kind of Tango was being used in the study. As readers of ExploreDance.com know, American Tango and Argentine Tango are very different, even if they come from the same root. The hold and posture used in each are especially different, and this could very well make a difference in a study of balance. While I think Mr. Nagourney should have dug a little deeper here, this omission is not entirely his doing because the abstract for the study he was reporting on did not mention which kind of Tango was used in the study either.
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