CAT Symposium: Passion, Pathways and Potential in Dance

This symposium in October 2011 launched the findings of a three-year interdisciplinary research project into the development of dance talent among young people.

The research project

Nearly 800 young dancers training at eight government-funded Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) were involved in the largest project of its kind.

Over a three year period, the interdisciplinary research measured a wide range of characteristics related to dance talent (physiology, anthropometry, psychology, injury, adherence, creativity) and explored the factors that may contribute to optimal talent development. Qualitative interview-based research also investigated how these factors relate to both creativity and commitment.

Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science and CAT research Principal Investigator, highlights:

"To be successful, a dancer must be technically and artistically proficient, while also being motivated, committed and able to cope with a demanding profession."

"Talent is not static or just about particular individual characteristics; it is dynamic and affected by a wide range of factors such as relationships, the environment, and cultural and societal aspects.

"Our research found that the CATs nurture both talent and, at the same time, well-being; the way they do this is consistent with best practice as defined by existing research."


The research team (left to right): Dr Imogen Aujla, Dr Sanna Nordin-Bates, Dr Emma Redding

To find out more about the research project and the team visit Dance Science Research: The CAT Research Project.

The symposium

Delegates who attended the event in October 2011 came from a wide range of backgrounds and included dance educators, industry professionals and leaders, academic researchers and policy makers. 

The programme combined research presentations, breakout groups, plenty of discussion and, in the evening, performances by the talented young CAT dancers.

Keynote speakers were Janet Karin OAM, Kinetic Educator at the Australian Ballet School, and Shobana Jeyasingh, Artistic Director of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company.


Shobana Jeyasingh, in her keynote speech, noted:

"Good training in whatever discipline gives talented dancers that physical literacy to be able go beyond their training."

"The identification of talent and the training of talent is of huge importance to the dance sector and it certainly touches on the practice and product of choreographers such as myself in a profound way."

"It is not only the physical skills and accomplishments of the dance trained body that play a key role in the choreographic process but, if like me one works with creative tasks to generate movement, it is also education, physical literacy (which might be different to being a good technician), imagination, psychological robustness, powers of thought and analysis and social and interpersonal skills. All these feed into the definition of what makes a talented dance artist."

"This valuable research done on the CAT dancers I am sure will enlighten and have far reaching consequences for the dance activity in all its aspects and I would like to put on record both my gratitude and appreciation for this endeavour."


The research findings presented were received with enormous interest by delegates.  Comments made both during and after the symposium illustrate the breadth of positive responses and the sense of inspiration.

Here are just some of the delegates' thoughts recorded during the course of the day:

"Develop students' passion in a safe and comforting environment"

"Dance Science needs to be more integrated into dance education!"

"My practice must never stand still"

"Minister's question: Is dance really worth doing and funding? Answer: Yes, Minister, and today we have the proof!"

lclow015_117         lclow031_117         lclow001_117

"CAT dancers are injured less than adult dancers!"

"We need to be change-makers as well as nurture tomorrow's change-makers"

"Communicate passion as learners and facilitators of learning"

Following the symposium, we received fantastic feedback.  A few of the comments: 

"Congratulation on that very inspiring and interesting symposium and of course to your achievement with this long and intensive study with the CATs!  It is impressive to see what has been accomplished here in the UK."

"Really informative and inspiring and I've come back geared up to disseminate the information to our teaching team"

"I felt proud to be part of such a great project"

"The report is fabulous - what a brilliant piece of work that will be an important reference tool for anyone involved with talented young people, for a long time to come."

"... a landmark point in dance history"

CAT performance

The research report

The full research report is available on-line.  Please click here to download your copy (18.7MB). 

Alternatively, you can buy a hardcopy of the 80pp full colour report via our eshop here.

Please contact Angela Kerkhoff, Research Administrator, with any queries: [email protected].

For further information about Laban's Centre for Advanced Training, please go to the Laban CAT; you can find contact information for all CATs at National Dance CATs.

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


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