News: Youth dance science project at Laban

Friday 25 April 2008

Laban has received a grant of over £180,000 from The Leverhulme Trust to help fund a unique three year dance study which will use scientific methods to examine the processes of identifying and developing talent in young dancers.

The identification and development of contemporary dance talent in young people: An interdisciplinary longitudinal research project will study approximately 300 young people (aged between 11 & 18) training at the six government funded Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) in dance around the country. The CATs are a recent initiative funded and developed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Music and Dance Scheme to identify and nurture exceptionally talented young dancers.

Principal investigator and Laban’s MSc Dance Science Programme Leader Emma Redding said: “A research project such as this has never before been undertaken. This grant will allow Laban, in collaboration with the other Centres for Advanced Training, to scientifically investigate contemporary dance talent development in young people. I hope that the findings will inform and enhance dance teaching practices, helping to provide the country’s talented young dancers with world-class training opportunities”.

The research is interdisciplinary, measuring the physiological, biomechanical and psychological characteristics of talent in dance and exploring the factors that may contribute to its optimal development. Qualitative interview-based research will also explore how these factors relate to creativity.

Anthony Bowne, Director of Laban commented: “We are very grateful to both The Leverhulme Trust and the DCSF for enabling this innovative research. The project is in a strong position to advance knowledge within the areas of physiology and psychology for young talented dancers, looking at issues such as physical fitness, growth and injury. We hope the findings will contribute to the physical and psychological well-being of young dancers in the UK, providing them with the chance to flourish.”

The project has been made possible by the significant support of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) both through the initiation and sustaining of the CAT programme and considerable provision towards the core costs of this research.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House also welcomed the news saying: “Dance training tends to be based on tradition and personal experience rather than scientific fact. I highlighted the need for quantitative research into the impact of dance training on children and young people in the recently published Dance Review, commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. I am extremely excited about this new research project and its potential impact for developing excellence in dance training for young people.”

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