The research, funded by Arts Council England’s Research Grants programme, focused on two groups of young people, aged between 10 and 20, living in an area of East Leeds.
Over 10 months, they took part in free dance sessions for up to two hours every week at Yorkshire Dance’s base at Quarry Hill, Leeds.
Recreational dance helped them to feel happier, increase confidence, develop social skills, express themselves in creative ways, and promote active lifestyles and healthy habits. It also played a role in reducing stress by helping them to cope with difficult issues they faced in their lives.
Dance, as an art-form, offered a unique opportunity to empower young people to take charge of their own health and well-being, the report found.
Parents and teachers of the participants also observed positive effects that the dance sessions created. One parent said of her daughter: “It’s made her more confident. It’s brought her out of her shell.”
A school teacher said that the dance programme had improved the young people’s social skills and the way they communicated. She said: “They have to work together when performing and devising… but also [have] the confidence to speak out in front of others. “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.”
For some of the participants, dedication to dance and the significant amount of time devoted to the activity resulted in tensions and conflicts with an already busy life – an effect often found when young people take part in sports and activities while trying to balance demands at school.
A small number of the younger participants highlighted occasional tensions within their groups, within the overall context of a positive, beneficial and well-organised sessions.
Dr Shaunna Burke, from the School of Biomedical Sciences, lead researcher on the programme, said: “A key challenge remains in providing opportunities for young people who live in deprived communities to participate in health-enhancing activities in order to reduce the negative impact of economic disadvantage on health outcomes.
“Physical activity through community-based dance may provide one solution to this problem by encouraging youth to adopt healthier lifestyles. Our data show that participation in a community-based recreational dance programme improved perceptions of quality of life across psychological, social, and physical domains of well-being.
Wieke Eringa, Artistic Director of Yorkshire Dance, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to work with the team from University of Leeds to back up our own instinctive and observed ideas about the benefits of dance with their robust, rigorous academic research.
“This kind of research evidences how dance can support young people in meeting a growing number of challenges as well as proving stimulating learning. It clearly strengthens the case for investment in dance within schools and in healthcare in order to support wellbeing and self efficacy.”
The company of young people, Yorkshire Dance Youth, continues to meet every Wednesday evening. Anyone aged between 11 and 19 is welcome to join, whatever their level of experience. Yorkshire Dance offers full and partial bursaries to ensure that anyone is able to take part.
This programme complements an existing partnership between Yorkshire Dance with the University of Leeds, studying the health and well-being benefits of dance for older adults. The long-running collaboration, supported by the University’s Cultural Institute, provides a tangible example of how knowledge created by researchers and creative practitioners coming together can have a significant impact on people’s lives, contributing new evidence of the impact of dance to health, well-being and empowerment.
Journalists with questions or interview requests should contact Peter Le Riche, Media Relations Manager, University of Leeds on +44(0)113 343 2049 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Scott Bowen, Physiological Society (Jul 2018), £10,000
Steve Clapcote, Jamie Johnston, The Dunhill Medical Trust (Jun 2018), £254,874
Adrian Goldman, MRC (Jun 2018), £98,627
Darren Tomlinson, Michelle Peckham, Megan Wright, BBSRC (Jun 2018), £150,443
Simon Walker, Royal Society (Jun 2018), £337,601
Tom Thirkell, N8 Agrifood (Jun 2018), £14,870
Stephen Muench with Glaxo SmithKline & UCB Celltech, BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award (Apr 2018), £480,225
Steve Clapcote, BBSRC (Apr 2018), £443,072
Helen Miller, Innovate UK (Apr 2018), £999,960
Elisabetta Groppelli, David Rowlands & Stanley Lemon (University of North Carolina), Medical Research Foundation Fellowship (Apr 2018), £293,494
Nikesh Patel, Medical Research Foundation fellowship (Apr 2018), £290,976
Graham Askew with colleagues in Hull and Liverpool, BBSRC (Apr 2018), £150,498
Andrew Macdonald, Neil Ranson & Richard Foster, Kidney Research UK (Apr 2018), £82,821
Jessica Kwok & Ralf Richter, Leverhulme Trust (Apr 2018), £298,273
Julie Aspden, Royal Society (Apr 2018), £20,000
Liz Duncan, Royal Society (Mar 2018), £14,602
Alex O'Neill & Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £45,489
Jim Deuchars, Royal Society (Feb 2018), £16,300
Stefan Kepinski & Netta Cohen, Leverhulme Trust (Feb 2018), £320,387
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £49,950
Alison Baker, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Scott Bowen, Leducq Foundation Grant (Feb 2018), £28,470
Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Alex O'Neill, Oxford Drug Design (Jan 2018), £86,098
Dave Lewis and Colleagues in South Africa, HEFCE Global Challenge Research (Jan 2018), £48,000
Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
Christine Foyer and Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £71,158
Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
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Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000