News: Dance is good for you - the evidence

Monday 18 January 2010

We all think we know that dance ‘is good for you’. It keeps you in good shape, develops mind/body co-ordination and is a creative art form, but there haven’t yet been many scientific studies proving these assumptions.

Dance 4 your life – a research project conducted by The North Kent Local Authorities Arts Partnership (NKLAAP) and the Dance Science Department at Laban into the physical and psychological impact of dance on young women has produced some conclusive evidence about the beneficial effects of dance.

The project provided dynamic dance classes in five schools across North Kent, led by professional dance artists based in the region. Dance Science researchers from Laban devised a programme of testing to assess the impact on the participants, who were all aged 14. The research examined both the physical (aerobic capacity, flexibility, upper body strength) and psychological (levels of self esteem, intrinsic motivation, general attitudes towards dance and group physical activity) impact of the classes. A number of key findings emerged. There was a statistically significant improvement in levels of self esteem among the students who took part and statistically significant improvements in aerobic capacity and upper body strength. Teenage girls are receptive and positive towards dance as a physical activity, even at an age when statistics show many begin to drop out of physical activities. The young women involved in this study all had high levels of motivation at the beginning of the project and these levels were maintained. Of course this begs the question what would the results look like with a group of participants starting from a lower level of interest in dance – but hopefully this project will be the first of many, providing valuable resources for advocates of dance to use in lobbying for more investment in dance provision.

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