The story of Marta C. Gonzalez Saldaña, an elderly woman with dementia who danced to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ in a heartwarming video that went viral on social media, has become somewhat of an urban mystery. The Asociación Música para Despertar claims that Gonzalez was a Prima Ballerina in New York in the 1960s, although this information has been disputed. Dance critic Alastair Macaulay has been on a mission to uncover the truth about Gonzalez’s past and has been sharing updates on his investigation on Instagram.

On Tuesday, Macaulay shared a bombshell lead, claiming to have found a document dating back to 1966, stamped by Cuban authorities. The document stated that the “Higher School for Professional Studies, Nueva York,” was to bestow the title of a “prima ballerina” in the “Ballet de las Américas” unto “Marta C. González Saldaña.” However, the “Higher School for Professional Studies, Nueva York” does not exist anywhere in the USA.

Additionally, the footage of the young ballerina dancing in the video is not of Gonzalez, but of a former Russian prima ballerina, Uliana Lopatkina. Furthermore, Lopatkina performs a number called the Dying Swan, set to a musical piece called Carnival of the Animals, by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns – not Swan Lake.

The new information raises many questions regarding the video of Gonzalez. At the time of writing, the Asociación Música para Despertar has yet to publicly comment on the mystery. However, the power of music and art in therapy for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia is undeniable, as stated by the Alzheimer’s Association. Both offer patients an outlet for self-expression and engagement, even after their conditions have progressed to a point where communication is challenging


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