NRG2 expands on previous research carried out by Hampshire Dance and Trinity Laban's Dance Science team. The project explored the physical and psychological impact of creative dance and PE on young people in 'at risk' areas of West Sussex, looking specifically at gender differences.
Young people aged 11 to 13 years from three schools in West Sussex experienced either weekly creative dance classes or weekly PE classes for a period of ten weeks, while a group of Trinity Laban's Dance Science specialists assessed the physical and psychological impacts. The physical areas assessed were: aerobic capacity, flexibility, and upper body strength. In terms of psychological well-being, the team examined attitudes towards general physical activity, attitudes towards dance and the basic needs satisfaction of the participating young people (psychological needs that impact on how an individual participates in a given activity).
NRG2 found that the physical and psychological well-being of the girls in both groups (Dance and PE) improved after the ten week period, while no change was found in the boys in either group. Girls who participated in the dance classes greatly improved their aerobic capacity and flexibility and also felt significantly more competent and related to their peers.
The findings are of particular importance as girls in this age group are less physically active than boys. Therefore if dance is made available to young girls, it may reverse the negative trend of inactivity. Boys may also benefit from dance, but the style of dance and the approach to teaching should be considered further.
The sharing event was introduced by keynote speaker Veronica Jobbins, Head of Learning & Participation at Trinity Laban, and featured performances from 20 young people who had participated in the project. Attendees included key figures from the dance and health arenas, including Melanie Precious, Youth Dance Strategy Manager of London Youth Dance and Denise Woods, Relationship Manager for Dance at Arts Council England (South East), who took part in discussions on the current and future relationship between dance and health.