Talent Development: The CAT Project

The Department of Education and The Leverhulme Trust jointly funded this ground-breaking three-year longitudinal dance science project at Laban. The project used scientific methods to examine the processes of developing talent in dancers aged 10-18 years.

Just under 800 young people training at the government funded Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) in dance around the country took part. The research was interdisciplinary, measuring physiological, anthropometric, psychological, injury-related, and creativity characteristics of talent in dance and exploring the factors that may contribute to its optimal development as well as to adherence and dropout. The project's findings  contribute to the development of the CAT scheme, ensuring that it is developed in a rigorous and consistent way. The findings also inform pedagogic practice with young people across the wider sphere of dance education.

This is the first time a longitudinal study has examined young dancers in depth from a scientific perspective. Never before have dancers of any age or dance genre been studied in an interdisciplinary project that measures the characteristics of dance talent, their interrelationships and potential implications. It is also the first time an organisation has been in the position to follow a population of young people already identified as talented across a period of two years, thus enabling the notion of talent to be studied in depth.


The project measured a wide range of talent characteristics through quantitative and qualitative methods. The following variables were measured twice a year for two years:

  • Aerobic fitness
  • Lower leg muscular power
  • Upper body muscular strength
  • External hip rotation (turn out)
  • Passive and active hamstring flexibility
  • Hypermobility
  • Balance
  • Anthropometry (arm span; height and sitting height; leg and arm lengths; calf, thigh and upper arm circumferences)
  • Injury
  • General health
  • Self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Perfectionism
  • Eating attitudes
  • Motivational climate (psychological atmosphere in the studio)
  • Passion for dance 

In addition, interviews were conducted regarding:

  • Creativity
  • Commitment to training

To download a copy of the full research report click here

For other reports, see the Resources page.


Symposium: Passion, Pathways and Potential in Dance

A symposium in October 2011 launched the full findings of this research.  Read more...

  • Laura Blazy
  • Janet Briggs
  • Martin Collins
  • Patricia Holmes
  • Veronica Jobbins
  • Isobel Knight: hypermobility
  • Claire Mera-Nelson
  • Ashley McGill
  • Edel Quin: growth, flexibility and strength
  • Ivan Thorley
  • Deborah Watson: creativity
  • Martha-Malu Wiekens: growth and injury
  • Kerry Chappell: creativity
  • Richard Brown
  • Veronica Jobbins, MA FRSA, Head of Professional and Community Studies, Laban
  • Robin Kiel, MBE, Policy Manager, DCSF Music and Dance Scheme
  • Vanessa Lefrançois, Director of Recreational & Prevocational Dance, The Place
  • Marie McCluskey, Artistic Director, Swindon Dance
  • Claire Mera-Nelson PhD, Dean of Studies, Creative Futures Director, Professorial Staff, Trinity Laban
  • Sanna Nordin-Bates PhD, Research Fellow, Laban
  • Emma Redding PhD, Head of Dance Science and Principal Investigator, Laban
  • Imogen Walker, MSc, PhD Candidate, Laban
  • Eva Woloshyn, Director of Development and Corporate Affairs, Trinity Laban


Trinity Laban is a partner of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science


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