Dance 4 your life
A dance and health project
In September 2008, North Kent Local Authorities Arts Partnership (NKLAAP) developed dance 4 your life, a dance research project. The project was devised with the dual aims of delivering an enjoyable dance programme, and scientifically assessing its impact on the fitness, health, and wellbeing of young people in the NKLAAP region (Local and Unitary Authority areas of Gravesham, Medway and Swale).
The dance programme was delivered by a team of professional dance artists to Year 10 students in five secondary schools, over two terms during 2009. A team of Dance Scientists and Researchers from Laban were commissioned to assess the impact and potential health benefits of this dynamic contemporary dance programme on young adolescents.
Specific physiological and psychological areas of fitness, health and wellbeing were chosen for assessment. Physical assessments included flexibility, upper body strength, and aerobic capacity, and areas of psychological assessment included self esteem (or self worth), intrinsic motivation (or participation in an activity for pleasure rather than external reward), and general attitudes towards dance and group physical activities. Research data was collected by the project team from Laban at the beginning and then again at the end of the programme.
The research findings demonstrated significant increases in physical fitness and upper body strength. Self esteem also increased significantly. Furthermore, participants were found to be very receptive to dance, with high levels of intrinsic motivation at pre-test and post-test stages. The vital need to encourage young people to participate in physical activity as a tool for greater health and well being is acknowledged at government level and among health professionals. The potential health benefits of dance have also been both anecdotally observed, and demonstrated by previous research in the field. Dance 4 your life has provided sound scientific evidence in terms of the health benefits of dance, thus contributing to the findings of previous studies in the field, and emphasising further, the essential need for increased and ongoing investment in dance.