Yorkshire Dance

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Dance for Health, Well-Being & Empowerment of Young People

Yorkshire Dance Youth Fresh 2015 by Brian Slater

Findings from a longitudinal study with youth from deprived urban areas

Yorkshire Dance and the University of Leeds worked together on this two year research project, funded by Arts Council England, investigating the impact of participation in an innovative youth dance company programme on the health, well-being and sense of empowerment of young people and their families who live in deprived communities in Leeds.

“…That I can believe in myself,
and do things that I never thought
I could do before…”
– Youth, interview

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Project Aims

The Dance for Health, Wellbeing and Empowerment of Young People project set out to understand how dance impacted on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of young people who live in poor neighbourhoods in Leeds. The project worked with the Yorkshire Dance youth company programme consisting of free, open access dance provision offered to young people in East Leeds aged 11 – 19.


This study used a longitudinal research design involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. Multiple methods were used to collect data from the perspective of youth dance participants, parents, teachers, and dance tutors, working with an ethnographer over a 10 month period.

This report is useful to:

  • Arts and cultural professionals: to help understand some of the barriers faced by young people from deprived backgrounds to participation in dance and to further the debate about the contribution of dance to positive physical and mental health of young people.
  • Policy makers and health commissioners: to grow the evidence base that dance can play a pivotal and specific role in delivering positive health benefits for young people.
  • Researchers and academics: to illustrate the potential of research that explores the impact of dance on stressors related to living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods among youth populations.
  • Public and voluntary sector: (teachers, educationalists, health professionals and community development practitioners): to inspire ideas and possibilities for working with dance to promote individual growth in young people and contribute to positive quality of life.

This study was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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Donations are vital to Yorkshire Dance. It is the generous support of our partners and local people which enables us to carry out valuable research and develop life-changing dance programmes. 

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