Dance Like It’s Good for You

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on June 25, 2019

At any hospital, healing begins with medical treatment. For many patients at Carilion Clinic, it continues through artistic expression.

Since 2012, Carilion’s Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Program has integrated literary, performing and visual art experiences into the healing process. The program’s many initiatives include:

aerial view of a poured concrete labyrinth outside a hospital
Walking through a labyrinth is a calming, meditative experience for patients and caregivers alike.
  • healing garden on the Roanoke River Greenway outside Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital
  • A labyrinth for independent meditation on Carilion Clinic’s Riverside campus
  • Guided journaling opportunities for patients in our hospitals
  • Poetry, including a series of curated “Poems in the Waiting Room” brochures placed throughout Carilion facilities
  • An annual patient art show (and an employee art show as well)
  • An artist-in-residence program

Carilion Clinic’s 2018 Annual Report features one artist-in-residence, professional dancer Pedro Szalay. Pedro works with children, adolescents and adults who are receiving care in Carilion Clinic’s Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine Department.

The art produced by patients is astounding in its variety and impressive in its quality.

He has returned as artist-in-residence multiple times because he sees firsthand the transformative power of the arts on physical and mental health.

“It’s so rewarding to see a patient smile and feel joy when there may not otherwise be much joy in their lives,” he says.

Dancing has been shown to improve mental, physical and emotional well-being in many ways. It stimulates the "reward centers" in the brain by releasing serotonin. It also lowers your chance for dementia and improves cognitive function by helping your brain create new neural pathways. 

The program is made possible by contributions to the Carilion Clinic Foundation.

elderly hospital patient smiling while making music with artist volunteer
Healing arts can take many forms and benefit patients inside and outside of the hospital.

You can find out more about it in Healing Arts: A Vital Addition to Patient Care.

Learn more about the benefits of dancing in Dancing Is Good for Your Brain

And find out more about Carilion Clinic’s innovative and creative approaches to healing in its latest Annual Report.