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Industry Research

Dance Facts

Some facts and figures showing the popularity of dance in New Zealand

DANZ estimates that more than 630,000 New Zealanders of all backgrounds, abilities and ages dance regularly, which is far more than play rugby and netball combined.

Dance has enormous potential to give to recreation and education programmes. By working across the diversity of dance in New Zealand we can achieve some of our health, community and audience development targets.


In 2008 SPARC research showed 549,112 or 16.8% of New Zealand adults (aged 16 years and over) regularly participate in dance.

  • Dance is the 8th most popular physical activity for New Zealanders.
  • Dance is ranked the 6th most popular activity with Māori and Asian, 5th with Pacific Island and 7th with others (Middle-Eastern, Latin American and African ethnicities).
  • There are over 12 Tertiary Institutions offering 21 dance related course (NZQA level 5 and above), including five dance degrees.
  • Local dance events in a particular genre attract good attendance,
  • Since Dancing with the Stars on TV, some beginner adult classes have reached as high as 70 participants on the first night.


Dance is also highly popular with children. There are in excess of 80,000 young people learning dance in dance studios across the country. Dance is the fastest growing subject in senior secondary schools and NZQA talks about there having been an ‘explosion’ of dance at NCEA level.

  • Dance clubs have been set up by students in 80% of New Zealand schools, in particular for Hip Hop and cultural dance.
  • Statistics released in 2009 by Creative New Zealand show 37% of 10-14 year olds have participated in a dance performance at least once in the past 12 months; 35% of 10-14 year olds said they like to participate in their own time in dancing, singing or performing.
  • Dance was introduced to the school arts curriculum in 2001 and in 2007 dance was accepted as an NCEA University Entrance Subject.
  • Kinaesthetic learning is proving very effective with attention deficit syndrome students and low achievers.

Dance Events

Dance events and festivals have seen a steady growth in participants and audiences over the years.

  • In 2013 Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competition had 1640 performers watched by a live audience 60,000 and a television audience of 220,000. 
  • Pacific dance events such as the Auckland Pasifika Festival and Polyfest have grown exponentially - Polyest has become the largest Māori  and Pacific Island festival in the world. 
  • Festivals like The Body Festival (Christchurch) and Tempo (Auckland) has seen a mass increase in audience, participants and audience participation through workshops and volunteers. 
  • In 2005 the Dancing with the Stars televised competition become the highest rated timeslot programme.

Health and Well Being

Dance has positive influences on the wellbeing of individuals, as shown in international research. After eight weeks of regular dancing, improvements are seen in cardiovascular function and improved body composition. 

  • Dance is seen to be a satisfying way of working for people with disabilities, everyone can work to their own capabilities (see companies like Touch Compass and Jolt).
  • Dance is a great activity for older adults as it enables social and physical contact as well as activity and fun, and works against loneliness and depression.
  • When people dance they often forget that they are exercising because they are caught up in other things like music, concentrating and having fun.

Advocate for dance - many voices can make a change

It is important for those involved in dance to interact widely in their local communities. Councils across New Zealand ask for submissions towards their long term plans (LTCCP). Some run public forums for people to have their say. This is the ideal time to explain local dance needs e.g. rehearsal or workshop space in local community centres, that dance should be included within local council recreation opportunities, that dance in festivals should be supported. This will help achieve the developments outlined in the New Zealand Dance Industry Strategy.

Download the full report with citations - Dance Facts 2014

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