A collaboration between the Opernhaus Zürich and the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich with the performance group The Field and the Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation

Connect is a dance project for people living with neurological challenges, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s disease. The impulse for the project came from Cathy Marston, the new Ballet Director of the Ballett Zürich, whose ballet The Cellist tells the story of Jacqueline du Pré, the star cellist who had MS and died far too soon. It soon became clear that developing a dance training programme for individuals with neurological challenges in Zurich would be a collaboration that required multiple partners. Building on a strong foundation of expertise and commitment, together they would be able to establish a long-term, sustainable project.

This endeavor, unique in Switzerland and Zurich, is the result of a cooperation between the Tonhalle- Gesellschaft Zürich, the Ballett Zürich, the Zurich performance group The Field, as well as the Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation. The project is supported by the Parkinson Society of Switzerland, the Swiss MS Society, as well as the Neurology Clinic at the Universitätsspital Zürich.

A kick-off and informative event for patients, relatives, professionals, and others interested in the project will take place on Friday, 3 November, at the Tonhalle.

The pilot phase of Connect begins in February 2024. Weekly trainings will take place each Friday afternoon in the Vereinssaal of the Tonhalle Zürich.

Why dance and music?

Recent neurological research views dance as an ideal intervention for those living with neurological diseases and disorders such as MS or Parkinson’s disease. Research emphasizes the potential role of dance and music in managing motorchallenges and improving psychosocial well-being and quality of life. The creative approach that Connect employs is grounded in evidence-based research that is at the innovative intersection of dance and neurology. Movement offers participants the opportunity to create connection with themselves and their environment. Dancing shapes and enhances balance, expression, posture, and creativity.

Weekly trainings will be led by specialist dance teaching artists. Musicians from the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich will provide a live music focus in select sessions, allowing participants to immerse themselves in an environment infused by music and dance.

The experience will be further enriched by visits to rehearsals at the Opernhaus and the Tonhalle, as well as by interactions with dancers from the Ballett Zürich and musicians from the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.

The content of the Connect trainings will focus on a choreography from the Ballett Zürich or a musical programme from the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. Guided by the teaching-artists, participants will explore these works from different perspectives, in each of the sessions. They will also discover insights into the professional rehearsal process. For the winter/spring 2024 period, the Connect team has chosen two programs: The Cellist (Ballett Zürich) and Electric Fields (Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich). These works provide a starting point for creative explorations.

Pilot phase dates

  • Weekly dance training, Fridays 14.00-16.00,
    Vereinssaal Tonhalle Zurich
    Start: 2 February 2024
    (Pilot phase: February-May 2024, optional project extension through July 2024)

  • The pilot phase is already fully booked. If you are interested in the project, you can register here for further news.

Vereinssaal Tonhalle Zurich, Gotthardstrasse 5, 3rd floor, 8002 Zurich.
Barrier-free access to the rooms and disabled parking spaces are available.


Cathy Marston, Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer Ballett Zürich

Ilona Schmiel, Intendant Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zürich


Supported by

Scientific Advisory Partner

  • Neurology Clinic Universitätsspital Zürich: Parkinson Team and MS Team
  • Elevate ® Scottish Ballet: Specialists in a dance program for individuals with MS


The «Connect» team in video

Cathy Marston on «Connect – Dancing with Neurological Challenges»