Dance, Health and Wellbeing: Debating and moving forwards methodologies
Trinity Laban has been involved in a number of research projects in recent years which have sought to measure the impact of dance and arts within community settings.
Dance for Health Across the Lifecourse
This project was funded by the University of Exeter Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, led by researchers from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, University of Exeter and Dance in Devon.
While there is some agreement within the field on the evidence of the positive benefits of dance, this research project considered the distinctive aesthetic, artistic and creative contributions that dance can make to health and wellbeing and what are the range of methodologies that can capture them best.
The project culminated in a systematic literature review that synthesizes understandings of the aesthetic, artistic and creative contributions that Dance makes to Health and Wellbeing across the lifecourse, a series of workshops with key practitioners to consider the pertinent issues around this topic and a symposium with known researchers in the field (Nikki Crane Associates and Programme Lead, Arts Health & Wellbeing King’s College London), Fergus Early OBE (Artistic Director, Green Candle Dance Company) and Dr Sarah Houston (Deputy Head, School of Arts, University of Roehampton).
Visit the University of Exeter website for more information on the project.
Read the evaluation report
Bodies of Evidence | Contribution of Dance to Health and Wellbeing: Debating Research Methodologies and Impact
View videos of the symposium
Research Article: Beyond health and well-being: transformation, memory and the virtual in older people’s music and dance
Authors: Kate Wakeling & Jonathan Clark
Abstract: Research exploring older people and the participatory arts has tended to focus on notions of biomedical impact, often coupled with appeals to evasive notions of ‘‘well-being.’’ Rather than suggesting such approaches are invalid, this article proposes the need for their extension and proposes an alternative, critical approach to analysing older people’s experience of arts participation.
Dancing for Health
By Kings College London and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Dancing for Health was a collaboration between King’s College London’s Academic Department of Physiotherapy in the School of Population, Health and Environmental Sciences (SPHES) and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s. The project studied a creative dance programme at Trinity Laban for adults (18+) who have experienced an acquired brain injury(ABI) or stroke. This weekly class is delivered in specialist dance facilities led by a highly-experienced dance artist, supported by specialist neuro-physiotherapists, and the programme is of particular interest in offering a creative dance experience in a safe, sociable space.
Pilot Research Study
Beyond The Walls: Performance as dissemination in arts and health work
Created in 2016, Beyond the Walls is a collaboration between Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and reminiscence arts organisation Age Exchange. From 2012-2015, Age Exchange worked closely with researchers from Royal Holloway University of London to explore the impact of their work in care homes on the well-being of participants with dementia. At the close of this research, Age Exchange wanted to find an alternative way to demonstrate the impact of its work to funders and other parties – but in a more dynamic, immersive and multi-sensory way than the customary end-of-project report. So, Age Exchange commissioned Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation (Dance) team to work on a performance that encapsulated the impact of Age Exchange’s practice.
Beyond the Walls: A Reflection
Research Article: Beyond the Walls: The Artist-Researcher and Performative Dissemination (in press)
Authors: Rebecca Stancliffe, Kate Wakeling, Lucy Evans and Stella Howard
Abstract: This chapter examines Beyond the Walls, an innovative piece of interactive choreography for public performance which conjures the lived experience of Reminiscence Arts activity in a dementia care home. Drawing on accounts from the project’s artist-researchers, we investigate the value of Beyond the Walls through its ability to offer an alternative, person-centred and democratised means of generating and disseminating research data, notably through the performance’s capacity to spark various modes of empathy and to enact the idea of ‘embodied selfhood’ (Kontos 2004). The authors reflect on how such an approach to research and evaluation might be applied more broadly to other arts in health programmes.
Vital Dance: Service evaluation
A collaboration between Vital Arts and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Vital Dance was founded in 2010 to deliver dance sessions to maintain and improve the well-being of patients and the wider hospital community. This evaluation report assesses the first Vital Dance project working with older adults on wards at Mile End Hospital in the summer of 2015. Prior to this Vital Dance was a provision only delivered to children and young people on wards in The Royal London Hospital (2010-2014).
Service Evaluation: By Jasmine Middleton
Singing for Lung Health
Singing for Lung Health was a 10-week pilot delivered in partnership between Trinity Laban and Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Trust. The community singing classes were aimed at people living with a long-term lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and pulmonary fibrosis.
Transformations of practice and engagement: A postphenomenological study into online teaching and learning
In Spring 2020 the delivery of Trinity Laban’s classes, workshops, and projects moved online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This research seeks to understand more about how video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, influenced and transformed practices of teaching and learning. The project examines two key areas: the lived experience of remote participation in community arts practice and the agency of digital tools and objects in co-constituting arts practice.
Research Article: Mediating Experience: Online Community Arts Participation, A Postphenomenological Framing (in press)
Author: Rebecca Stancliffe
Abstract: During the COVID-19 pandemic, performing arts activities moved from studios and practice rooms into people’s homes with the adoption of video conferencing tools. Focusing on an arts and health singing programme and a community arts class, this chapter examines how the digital media involved in remote delivery and participation shapes and transforms lived experience. Adopting a postphenomenological lens, an empirical methodology that examines human-technology relations, Zoom is revealed to be a non-neutral mediator of experience. Triangulating data from participant observation, interviewing objects, and semi-structured interviews draws attention to the role of the screen in spatial orientation, how the mute button transforms singing, and the impact of latency on conversational flow. The chapter contemplates how Zoom and digital media both extend and disrupt participant experience, and argues for the potential of remote delivery for widening participation in the community arts.
The Reflective Practitioner
Research Article: ‘We’re all on the path ourselves’: The reflective practitioner’ in participatory arts with older people
Author: Dr Kate Wakeling
Abstract: This article explores the role of the ‘reflective practitioner’ in participatory arts projects with older people, as articulated by creative practitioners themselves. Research into participatory arts activity with older people which focuses on the process rather than the outcome of such activity remains sparse, as does scholarship which engages closely with artist-practitioners themselves as a rich source of knowledge and insight in this field. Supported by theory concerning the development and utility of reflective praxis (Schön 1983, Neelands 2006), the article foregrounds the perspectives of a range of experienced artist-practitioners, as obtained through interviews and the findings of a ‘reflective learning group’ practitioner CPD programme.
Research found that the creative practitioners consulted had developed a range of diverse reflective practices in order to engage and nurture the older participants they worked with, including: highly flexible and dialogic approaches; seeking ‘kinaesthetic empathy’ with participants; applying a form of ‘micro-responsiveness’ to participants; and fostering strong reflective practices among participants themselves. These findings hold important implications as to how we understand the processes by which practitioners enhance participant experience in the participatory arts, how creative practitioners are best supported in their work, and for the design, management and evaluation of participatory arts projects.
Creativity and Wellbeing among older people
Literature Review: Creativity and Subjective Well Being among Older People: A Literature Review
Author: Dr Kate Wakeling
Abstract: This literature review explores research that investigates the relationship between creative participation (with a focus on music and dance) and the notion of subjective well‐being among older people. The review examines the growing body of research that has sought to establish the specific benefits of participatory arts activity on older people’s well‐being, but is particularly focused on what might be cautiously termed more ‘active’ forms of creative engagement, such as devising and improvising. In highlighting this particular form of creative participation, the review also seeks to explore and unpick the somewhat slippery notions of ‘creativity’ and ‘wellbeing’ more critically. It will review a range of theoretical approaches to these concepts and identify a variety of more exploratory qualitative methodologies that have been (or might be) applied in the investigation of this field.
Inspired Not Tired
The ‘Inspired not Tired’ programme of work was created in 2011 by the Learning and Participation teams (Music and Dance) at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and is funded by Lewisham Council. The programme is specifically targeted at older people aged 60 and above from Lewisham and includes a mixture of music, dance and combined music & dance groups, providing regular opportunities for participants to take part in creative activity, interact socially and develop new skills.
Sessions are led by experienced practitioners from the Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation department, supported by a team of project managers. Each group in ‘Retired not Tired’ has a creative focus: practitioners work with participants’ ideas, skills and creative talents (on whatever level these may be and including those beyond solely music and dance) to produce their own creative outputs. Groups have been specifically programmed in different geographical locations around the borough and reach a range of different sub-groups of older people, in terms of age, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
Evaluation (2012 – 2015)
Dancing Ahead was a collaborative research project between Trinity Laban’s Dance Science and Learning & Participation (dance) departments. This report documents the dance science research findings, which was one element of a larger evaluative report on the dance participatory project titled Dancing Ahead. Dancing Ahead is funded by Headstart Lewisham, an initiative supported by Big Lottery, to improve the emotional wellbeing of 10 to 14 year-olds. Lewisham is one of 12 areas in England to receive a grant. Trinity Laban’s dance science research of Dancing Ahead was conducted alongside a larger evaluation commissioned by HeadStart Lewisham whose findings are yet to be published.
Report: May 2015 – December 2015
Hosted by The Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban Partnership, the 2015 Co Motion performance platform brought together inclusive contemporary dance performances and newly-created dance films from a variety of mixed-ability dance groups and companies. Participating groups included Cando2, Magpie Dance, ImPULSE Youth Dance, Trinity Laban’s Dance Ability groups and Youth Company, alongside participants from Charlton Park Academy and local Greenwich primary, Foxfield school. The platform included a number of new works specially commissioned by the partnership and the screening of two new dance films.
Performance Platform Evaluation Report
Dancing and Museums Working Together Symposium
The Dance & Museums Working Together Symposium took place at the Horniman Museum and Gardens (‘the Horniman’) on Thursday 27 November 2014. Its purpose was to bring dance organisations and museums together to share learning and ideas and to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by collaboration. The Symposium was produced by the Horniman and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance out of a desire to share learning from their own five year partnership and from an external evaluation of their most recent collaboration, Horniman’s Curious Tea Party.
Symposium Report: Content Analysis & Recommendations January 2015
Author: Emma McFarland, Consultant eMc Arts