August 6, 2019


Published Study Shows Dance Program Helps Improve Wellness in Veterans Afflicted By PTSD


Louisville, Kentucky – Dancing Well: The Soldier Project announces the peer-reviewed Journal of Veterans Studies has published results from a recent scientific study.  Study results show participation in the Dancing Well: The Soldier Project program of traditional dance, live music and community significantly improved the wellness of veterans with PTSD. Family members and loved ones who participated also showed improvement in wellness. The wellness score was a composite of multiple psychological surveys. Specifically, improvements were found in feelings of connectedness, feelings of hope and optimism and a reduction in the tendency to isolate. The study was conducted by Dancing Well: The Soldier Project’s Deborah Denenfeld, Western Connecticut State University’s Robin Gustafson, Tyla Johnson, Carlos Jimenez, Marlon Tristao, and University of Louisville’s Cynthia Corbitt, Michael Dylan Collins, Tasneem Karim and Mine Obrik-Uloho.


Dancing Well: The Soldier Project uses community dance experiences, a professional dance prompter and live music in ten session series in efforts to uplift veterans and their loved ones who are affected by PTSD or Brain Injury.  Symptoms of PTSD include a tendency to isolate, avoid new experiences, feel anxiety, hopelessness, fear and consider suicide. Participants in the program include veterans, family members, other loved ones and a cadre of volunteers who gather together to dance simple, traditional group dances. The program is currently located in Louisville, Kentucky and is, to our knowledge, unique in the world. Future plans include offering training for dance leaders who wish to begin similar programs across the nation.


Dancing Well dances are intentionally kept small and always include volunteer dancers, who were not included in the study. Due to the limited population, the study is considered a pilot. The journal article may be found at


Approximately 30.9% of men and 26.9% of women veterans suffer from some form of PTSD (National Center for PTSD, 2017.) PTSD is even more prevalent in veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) because of the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and because of the improved defensive equipment in use, resulting in fewer deaths but more cases of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (Morissette, Woodward, Kimbrel, Meyer, & Kruse, 2011).


Dancing Well: The Soldier Project is primarily supported by private donations, partially supplemented by The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Dancing Well: The Soldier Project will be participating in Give For Good Louisville on September 12, an online giving day created to support nonprofits doing great work in Louisville.


For more information, to support Dancing Well in bringing dance to wounded warriors, or to schedule an interview, please contact Deborah Denenfeld at (502) 889-6584 or


april 17, 2019


One-of-a-Kind Program Uses Dance to Help Veterans and Families Cope with PTSD and Brain Injuries


Louisville, Kentucky – Uplifting community dance experiences are being offered to help veterans and families affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Brain Injuries (BI). A series of ten dance sessions are being held April to July in Louisville Kentucky. The unique opportunity features live music, small group interaction and a dance caller to lead participants through simple dances tailored to their needs. Veterans are welcome to bring loved ones or come alone and be partnered with friendly volunteers. Families and loved ones are welcome to come with or without their veteran. Dances are provided by Dancing Well: The Soldier Project, Inc., a non-profit organization, and are free of charge. Dances will be held from 6:00 – 7:30 on Tuesday nights from April 30 - July 2 at a central location in Louisville.  (Location is kept confidential until participants pre-register). Older children are invited to join the dance, while free child-care is provided for younger children. Transportation can often be arranged to area participants upon request.


Now in its sixth year of holding dances, the program was developed in dialogue with a staff psychiatrist at Fort Knox. Dances are modified to ensure that those with PTSD, BI and other physical and mental challenges can participate fully and benefit. Modifications are made to the venue for safety and comfort. For example, the venue features special low lighting, for the comfort of those with brain injuries.


“For veterans sometimes the isolation can be very difficult. What Dancing Well: The Soldier Project does, in a very beautiful way, is gets people to form partnerships in the dance,” says a local VA recovery professional.


In a scientific study of the effects of the program on participants with PTSD, concluded in 2018, a statistically significant increase was shown in feelings of connectedness. This is important because isolation is a common factor in people who suffer from PTSD or brain injury. Isolation often leads to increased levels of depression and suicide.


In earlier dance series with veterans in Louisville and a series offered at Ft. Knox with soldiers with PTSD and BI, participants reported


•   feeling more at ease around a group

•  feeling connected to others

•   decreased anxiety

•   improved outlook on the future

•   improved mood and memory

•   improved relationships with their spouse or family

•   improved sleep and decreased nightmares


Many also experienced a decrease in their physical pain level.  Spouses and partners reported benefits from socializing and networking with other affected veterans/soldiers and families.


Dancing Well invites veterans and their loved ones interested in participating to join in the fun. Dances are open to the public and volunteers are needed to support the work. All participants must preregister.


Media are encouraged to contact Dancing Well to schedule covering the events or conducting  interviews with the Executive Director and participants.


For more information, to register, or to support Dancing Well in bringing dance to wounded warriors, contact Deborah Denenfeld at (502) 889-6584 or

Media: For more information, please contact Deborah Denenfeld, Executive Director of Dancing Well: The Soldier Project, at 502.889.6584 or 

Media are encouraged to contact Deborah to schedule filming or interviews.



Louisville Dance Series. Photo credit: John Nation


Louisville Dance Series. Photo credit: John Nation


Louisville Dance Series. Photo credit: John Nation


Louisville Dance Series. Photo credit: John Nation