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Youth Dance Research with University of Leeds

Yorkshire Dance Youth at Fresh 2016 © Brian Slater

In 2017 we published the findings of Dance for Health, Well-being and Empowerment, a two-year research project carried out by researchers from University of Leeds and funded by an Arts Council England Research Grant.

An ethnographic researcher was embedded in our youth company programme, which targets young people in deprived areas of east Leeds. The study aimed to investigate the impact of dance on young people aged 11-19 and their families. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect data from the perspective of the young people, their parents, teachers and dance tutors.

The research findings suggest that the young people experienced improved perceptions of their quality of life because of dance. Dance helped them to feel happier, increase confidence, develop social skills, express themselves in creative ways; and promote active lifestyles and healthy habits. Dance also played a role in relieving stress by offering respite to help them to cope with difficult issues they faced in their lives.

Most significantly the findings demonstrated the positive impact of community-based youth dance not only on physical health but also on psychological well-being.

“I would like probably hit a wall if I was really mad because that’s just the person I am, but with dance you can just channel it in a way and it just gets everything out.”
Youth dance participant

“You can express how you feel through movements. If I’m feeling angry you’ll probably notice because my movement’s massive or if I’m feeling a bit tired you’ll notice because I’m a little bit down on the floor.”
Youth dance participant

“It’s made her more confident. It’s brought her out of her shell.”
Parent

“They are making changes… drinking more water to prevent dehydration. They’ve been more perceptive and aware of their own health and well-being, even with what they eat.”
School teacher

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