Dance and Ability

Dance and Ability

Current Project


Dance and Ability is a multidisciplinary program created by the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, with support from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Research shows that the art and act of dancing stimulates the brain through a combination of motor and cognitive skills and, beyond medical benefits, also engages participants in critical thinking and communication and helps to build self-esteem. In collaboration with local Los Angeles dance organizations, this program prepares USC students to lead dance therapy training exercises for communities that often go unnoticed or are stigmatized.


Its first iteration, Dance and Ability: Dancing with Parkinson’s, was a collaboration with Lineage Performing Arts Center. After receiving specialized training, students created and led dance therapies and movement workshops for people living with Parkinson’s disease. The project also includes a guest speaker series that examined current research in dance therapy and Parkinson’s disease.


In the second iteration, Dance and Ability: Dancing with Down Syndrome, USC students will learn to lead dance therapy and training exercises for people with Down Syndrome. Bringing together USC students, staff, and faculty from University Park Campus and Health Science Campus and people living with Down Syndrome, it will culminate in a performance designed, choreographed, and performed by USC students and representatives from Free 2 Be Me Dance.


  • Prepare USC students to help bring dance and its benefits to people with disabilities—dance benefits everyone.
  • Shed light on communities that often go unnoticed or are stigmatized.
  • Examine existing research on dance therapy through articles, expert guest lecturers, dance practice, and community engagement.
  • Merge the interdisciplinary practices of dance, health, and education in collaboration with community partners, USC students, and dance and healthcare professionals to benefit the community.