Impact of choreographic approach on health and performance aesthetics in a company of mature dancers

Conference item


Laws, H., Farmer, C., Eldon, S. and Maliphant, R. 2022. Impact of choreographic approach on health and performance aesthetics in a company of mature dancers. International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) 32nd Annual Conference. Limerick, Ireland 28 - 31 Oct 2022 IADMS.
TitleImpact of choreographic approach on health and performance aesthetics in a company of mature dancers
AuthorsLaws, H., Farmer, C., Eldon, S. and Maliphant, R.
Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to explore the impact of a somatically informed choreographic approach on physical health and movement ability, quality of life and performance aesthetics in a company of mature dancers.
Literature review: Current literature on dance and the older body has focussed on dance as a means to slow the physiological and cognitive decline associated with ageing or chronic health conditions, rather than primarily as a means of creative expression and performance. While dance has been demonstrated to have beneficial health and social outcomes for older adults and as a tool for falls prevention, relatively little research has investigated the aesthetic qualities of dance in the older body, or the how the choreographic and performance process relates to health.
Methods: Fifteen dancers (F=13, M = 2) were recruited from a performance company for mature dancers (68.27±6.32 years). Prior to, and after an 8-week choreographic intensive culminating in performance, dancers completed the Short-Form 36 (SF-36), a sit to stand test, and movement analysis of shoulder flexion, lateral flexion and rotation of the torso, roll down and performance of a short dance phrase which was then analysed for changes in movement quality. Throughout the project auto-ethnographic observations were made, pain scores recorded, and reflective diaries completed.
Results and Discussion: Dancers scored highly both pre and post dance intensive for their age group in all SF-36 subscales including general health (78.33±12.12 and 78.75±13.16 respectively) and physical function (91.67±9.37 and 90.00±11.08). Pain scores spiked in correlation with dance intensives and were therefore indicative of delayed onset muscle soreness and reflected good recovery and no detrimental effect on participation in dance intensives. Subjective changes in movement quality were observed alongside improvements in balance ability ascribed to the inward focus engendered by the somatically informed creative process. Participants commented that they were able to achieve more, physically and aesthetically than they had previously believed possible.
Conclusion: This approach to choreography allowed dancers to rediscover connection with their body, affecting movement quality. Selected tests were appropriate for older adults in dance classes. However, it is recommended that further studies treat older adults as dancers primarily when selecting tests to measure health and aesthetic performance outcomes.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
Research GroupDance group
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceInternational Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) 32nd Annual Conference
Proceedings TitleIADMS 32nd Annual Conference
PublisherIADMS
Publication dates
Print28 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Nov 2022
Accepted22 May 2022
Completed28 Oct 2022
Output statusPublished
Book title2022 32nd Annual Conference Proceedings: abstract book
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