• Access, inclusion and excellence : evaluating Stopgap Dance Company's IRIS programme

      Aujla, Imogen; Needham-Beck, Sarah; Stopgap Dance Company; University of Bedfordshire (Stopgap Dance Company, 2018-12-01)
      Among the numerous barriers to dance for disabled people, one of the key challenges in the UK has been the lack of progressive training routes for diabled dancers who wish to develop their talents.  Stopgap Dance Company sought to address this barrier by creating an inclusive talent development programme called IRIS.  Consisiting of four levels of increasing complexity, IRIS seeks to provide parity with mainstream training routes to help students progress their skills and confidence in dance. The aim of this research project was to evaluate IRIS in its first two years, while it was piloted with five groups.  The evaluation took into consideration the participants' experiences and outcomes of the programme using a longitudinal, mixed methods research design.
    • Accessing pathways to training for young disabled dancers

      Aujla, Imogen; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire/Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, 2019-03-19)
      The aim of this project was to investigate means of translating Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) syllabi for young disabled dancers. There are numerous barriers to dance for disabled people but one which has received increasing attention in recent years is the lack of systematic training available. Many non-disabled young people join private dance studios which provide an established progression route using staged syllabi and assessments in a range of dance genres. The ISTD recognised that this progression route should be more accessible for disabled young people, and that it could play a key role in opening pathways to dance. The organisation recruited a number of teachers and specialists, and commissioned a researcher from the University of Bedfordshire, to explore how this could be done.
    • Developing potential amongst disabled young people: exploring dance artists’ qualities as educators in the context of inclusive dance talent development

      Urmston, Elsa; Aujla, Imogen; Stopgap Dance Company; University of Bedfordshire (Stopgap Dance Company, 2018-09-01)
      The aim of this research project was to better understand the values, attributes and practices of dance artists who develop the potential of disabled young dancers. Stopgap Dance Company commissioned researchers at the University of Bedfordshire to explore the range of qualities that highly experienced dance artists demonstrate in their practice, particularly in the context of dance talent development. In order to meet these aims, observations and interviews were conducted with six established contemporary dance artists who work in inclusive settings. Analysis revealed common characteristics in how and why artists go about their work with disabled people.
    • Development of a performance evaluation tool to track progress in an inclusive dance syllabus

      Needham-Beck, Sarah; Aujla, Imogen (Routledge, 2020-03-30)
      The lack of systematic training available for young dancers with disabilities has previously presented a barrier for those wishing to develop their skills and pursue a career in dance. Recently, a number of initiatives have launched to help bridge this gap; however, currently no established assessment measures exist that are sensitive to the needs of young dancers with disabilities while providing evidence of their competencies. The aim of this study was to develop a performance evaluation tool to allow tracking of progress in technique and performance skills in young dancers with a range of physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The tool allows scoring on a Likert-type scale on eleven criteria, including control of movement, coordination, spatial awareness, timing and rhythm, and surface or partner work. Six dancers were filmed during classes to allow retrospective evaluation of their performance by four judges. Intra-Class Correlation Coefficients (ICCs) for inter-rater and test–retest reliability demonstrated good reliability. Inconsistencies in scoring reduced and ICCs strengthened when trial one was removed from analysis; therefore, a familiarisation trial is recommended for future uses of this tool. Overall, this appears to be a reliable tool for evaluating elements of dance technique and performance in young dancers with disabilities.
    • The impact of an intergenerational dance project on older adults' social and emotional well-being

      Douse, Louise Emma; Farrer, Rachel; Aujla, Imogen; ; University of Bedfordshire (Frontiers, 2020-09-16)
      There has been strong interest in intergenerational arts practice in the United Kingdom since the 1980s; however, there is a generally weak evidence base for the effectiveness of intergenerational practice regardless of the domain. The aim of this study was to investigate the outcomes of an intergenerational arts project on participants’ social and psychological well-being using a mixed-methods, short-term longitudinal design. Generations Dancing brought together community artists with students (n = 25) and older adults (n = 11) living in Bedford. Over an 11-week period, participants worked together to produce a new dance performance and photography exhibition. Focus groups were conducted with the participants to explore their feelings about the collaboration across generations and communities. Participants also completed a battery of questionnaires preproject and postproject, to assess any change in their levels of well-being. Results indicate that the older adults showed increased confidence and willingness to connect with others; they got immense enjoyment from talking about their experience with others. Furthermore, the project helped to address negative stereotypes that the older adults had of working with the young people. The older adults enjoyed the students’ company and felt encouraged and supported by the young people. While a small number of challenges were identified, including difficulties in traveling to the workshops for vulnerable participants, most challenges were overcome through the older adults’ engagement in the project. For example, initial anxieties regarding the performance seemed insufficient to affect the participants’ overall enjoyment of the project. The findings were supported by the increased scores in relatedness, affect, and social well-being over time, but were not statistically significant. The results of this study indicate that intergenerational dance and arts projects can have wide-reaching positive impacts on both social and psychological well-being. However, there were a number of methodological challenges, including difficulty in recruiting sufficient numbers of both experimental and control groups for a robust quantitative evaluation of the data. These challenges highlight that “real life” settings and scenarios can influence the amount, nature, validity, and reliability of data collected. Going forward we encourage researchers to continue to consider innovative ways to address such methodological challenges.
    • Independent dancers: roles, motivation and success research report

      Aujla, Imogen; Farrer, Rachel; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire, 2016-01-01)
      The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of independent dancers. We set out to gain a descriptive and analytical understanding of working life in the sector. We examined specific psychological factors such as motivation and self-definitions, and how these helped dancers in their careers. The term ‘independent dancer’ is commonly used within the UK dance industry to describe practitioners who work in multiple roles on freelance contracts. This approach to work enables dancers to engage with a range of dance communities, develop and apply diverse skills, and collaborate with multiple partners. Throughout this document we refer to such individuals as dancers or dance artists to represent those working in a range of roles and at a variety of levels. The independent dance sector is supported by an infrastructure of dance agencies that operate across the country to provide development opportunities and resources for independent dancers. It is estimated that around 40,000 people work in the UK dance industry, but the varied and ad hoc nature of their roles makes it challenging to quantify and describe the workforce accurately. In the past there have been several independent reports published about the sector as well as published interviews with renowned independent dancers that provide an insight into working conditions, rates of pay, infrastructures and funding, however with the industry developing so rapidly these sources are no longer current. More recently, doctoral research located within the independent sector has provided further insight into specific aspects of the dancers’ role. This, however, has focused specifically on artistic and choreographic concerns or is situated within a different geographical location. As a result, there is a lack of up to date knowledge about the UK independent dance sector meaning that this dynamic and mobile force still ‘works in relative invisibility’. Furthermore, academic research in the fields of professional practice, psychology and dance science has neglected to examine this important and continually developing part of the UK dance sector. Therefore, this research appears timely in order to provide current information about independent dancers and how they negotiate such a varied and challenging career. Although this research project has been disseminated in academic forums, the aim of this report is to inform dance artists, teachers and students of the findings in an accessible format.
    • ‘It’s my dream come true’: experiences and outcomes of an inclusive dance talent development programme

      Aujla, Imogen (Wiley, 2019-12-10)
      There are few opportunities for young disabled dancers to develop their talents, and even fewer studies investigating their experiences of such opportunities. The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives and outcomes of an inclusive talent development programme, and how these were facilitated. Semi‐structured interviews and focus groups with one teacher, four young dancers and four parents revealed that participation in the programme yielded multiple benefits for the young people involved. These included high levels of enjoyment, improved technical and creative ability, greater independence and confidence, and opportunities for socialising with like‐minded peers. A range of factors facilitated these benefits, such as the inclusive and caring ethos of the programme, its comprehensive development and teacher training, particular teaching strategies, and relationships between staff, students and parents. The study attests to the value of programmes designed for young disabled dancers who wish to develop their talents.
    • Passion, pathways and potential in dance: research report

      Redding, Emma; Nordin-Bates, Sanna; Aujla, Imogen; Trinity Laban (Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, 2011-01-01)
      Through a groundbreaking collaboration between Trinity Laban dance science researchers and the Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) across England, almost 800 young dancers took part in an interdisciplinary, longitudinal research project into dance talent development. Funded for a 3-year period by the Leverhulme Trust and the Department for Education, the research comprised investigations into the psychology, physiology, anthropometry, injury, adherence, and creativity of this talented cohort of young dancers. Our combination of quantitative and qualitative findings demonstrate that CAT dancers exhibited steadily increasing levels of physical fitness, high and stable levels of psychological well-being, low to moderate levels of injury and dropout, and positive creativity experiences. The CATs thus appeared to be nurturing young talent in an effective and healthy way. Findings are summarised under seven main headings.
    • Psychological wellness

      Mainwaring, Lynda; Aujla, Imogen; Wilmerding, M Virginia; Krasnow, Donna H.; University of Bedfordshire; University of New Mexico; York University; University of Toronto (Human Kinetics, 2017-10-18)
      Dancers who want to get the most out of their experience in dance—whether in college, high school, a dance studio, or a dance company—can now take charge of their wellness. Dancer Wellness will help them learn and apply important wellness concepts as presented through the in-depth research conducted by the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) and their experts from around the world.
    • The role of psychological factors in the career of the independent dancer

      Aujla, Imogen; Farrer, Rachel; University of Bedfordshire (Frontiers, 2015-10-30)
      Previous research indicates that psychological factors such as motivation and mental skills play an important role in relation to performance and to negotiating talent development stages. However, little is known about these factors in dance, particularly with regard to the independent dancer whose career may involve multiple roles, varied work patterns, and periods of instability. The aim of this study was to explore dancers’ motivation to work in an independent capacity, and the extent to which dancers’ psychological characteristics and skills enabled them to navigate a career in this demanding sector. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 dancers at different stages of their careers. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and content analyzed. Analysis revealed that the dancers were intrinsically motivated and highly committed to the profession. Working in the independent sector offered dancers opportunities for growth and fulfillment; they appreciated the autonomy, flexibility and freedom that the independent career afforded, as well as working with new people across roles and disciplines. In order to overcome the various challenges associated with the independent role, optimism, self-belief, social support, and career management skills were crucial. The mental skills reported by the participants had developed gradually in response to the demands that they faced. Therefore, mental skills training could be invaluable for dancers to help them successfully negotiate the independent sector.
    • Subjective wellbeing among young dancers with disabilities

      Aujla, Imogen; Needham-Beck, Sarah (Taylor & Francis, 2019-05-11)
      Little is known about the subjective wellbeing (SWB) of young dancers with disabilities and whether it changes over time. The aim of this study was to assess the SWB of young dancers with disabilities enrolled on an extracurricular inclusive talent development programme in the UK at two time points. Twenty-two young dancers completed the Personal Wellbeing Index for people with intellectual disability at the beginning of the academic year. Thirteen dancers completed the questionnaire a second time towards the end of the academic year. Scores were compared with normative values, and a Wilcoxon Signed Rank test was conducted to assess change over time. The participants reported high levels of SWB at both time points in comparison with normative values. There was no significant change in wellbeing scores over time. The study contributes to a growing body of literature suggesting that people with disabilities have high levels of SWB. Although causality cannot be assumed, inclusive dance programmes may contribute to SWB and allow young people with disabilities to overcome the barriers associated with physical activity.
    • Supporting change: The identification and development of talented young dancers with disabilities

      Aujla, Imogen; Redding, Emma; Jobbins, Veronica; Burridge, Stephanie; Svendler Nielsen, Charlotte; University of Bedfordshire; Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; Singapore Management University; University of Copenhagen (Routledge, 2017-07-11)
      The arts have a crucial role in empowering young people with special needs through diverse dance initiatives. Inclusive pedagogy that integrates all students in rich, equitable and just dance programmes within education frameworks is occurring alongside enabling projects by community groups and in the professional dance world where many high-profile choreographers actively seek opportunities to work across diversity to inspire creativity. Access and inclusion is increasingly the essence of projects for disenfranchised and traumatised youth who find creative expression, freedom and hope through dance. This volume foregrounds dance for young people with special needs and presents best practice scenarios in schools, communities and the professional sphere. International perspectives come from Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Timor Leste, the UK and the USA.
    • Understanding the impact of an intergenerational arts and health project: a study into the psychological well-being of participants, carers and artists

      Farrer, Rachel; Aujla, Imogen; Jenkins, Lindsay K.; University of Bedfordshire; Coventry University (Elsevier, 2021-04-18)
      There is growing interest in arts practices in relation to public health, including their potential to support psychological well-being. This study sought to understand the impact of Hear and Now, an intergenerational arts and health project, upon indicators of psychological well-being among all groups involved: young people, older people with a diagnosis of dementia and their carers and partners and the project's artistic team. This was a descriptive exploratory qualitative study, using focus groups and observation as data collection methods. Study participants were 65 people representing the four groups participating in the 2019 Hear and Now project: older adults living with a diagnosis of dementia, their carers and partners, young people and a team of professional artists and facilitators. Of these, 27 participated in one or more of seven focus groups. Participants were asked about their previous engagement with music and dance, thoughts about the intergenerational element of the project and other aspects of their experiences that related to indicators of well-being. In order to investigate the project's impact on participants' well-being, Seligman's PERMA model was adopted, which sets out five indicators of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and achievement/accomplishment. Experiences relating to all five areas of the PERMA model were evidenced by all groups in relation to their involvement in the project. Additional health benefits were also cited by some, as well as enhanced perceptions of other members of the project cohort. The findings support existing literature that intergenerational and arts activities can be beneficial for individuals' psychological health. Experiences relating to all five dimensions of the PERMA model of well-being (positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, achievement/accomplishment) were cited by the four participant groups, which suggests examining the impact of such projects on all project collaborators is worthy of further study. Understanding the impact these projects can have on the various groups involved will enable artistic and healthcare communities to better collaborate and value each other's practices.
    • Understanding the independent dancer: roles, development and success

      Farrer, Rachel; Aujla, Imogen (Edinburgh University Press, 2016-11-01)
      Little research has been published about the varied role of the independent dancer. The aim of this study was to provide insight into the work independent dancers undertake and how their careers change over time. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 independent dancers. Content analysis revealed that the dancers had multifaceted careers that relied on both formal and informal activities, and varied according to three distinct stages (early, middle, late). The experiences reported by the dancers indicated that the realities of the independent dancer's role are not sufficiently recognised or supported within the industry.
    • Values, attributes and practices of dance artists in inclusive dance talent development contexts

      Urmston, Elsa; Aujla, Imogen (Taylor & Francis, 2019-09-17)
      There is a paucity of research focused on understanding the qualities which underpin dance artists’ practice in working with talented young dancers with disabilities. This study investigated what informs how dance artists work in inclusive dance talent development contexts. Four dance class observations were conducted to provide evidence of dance artists’ qualities in practice. Six dance artists participated in semi-structured interviews. Thematic data analysis revealed four categories: the dance persona; values; attributes; and practices of dance artists. The dance persona was typified by characteristics such as being human, humility, altruism, and confidence. Artists’ values and attributes included celebrating difference, aspiring towards equality and relationality. Their practices were exemplified by varied differentiation strategies and an emphasis on reflection. These findings provide new insight into what drives artists working with dancers with and without disabilities, and aids better understanding of best practice in this context.
    • Within- and between-person predictors of disordered eating attitudes among male and female dancers: findings from the UK Centres for Advanced Training

      Nordin-Bates, Sanna M.; Schwarz, Johanna F.A.; Quested, Eleanor; Cumming, Jennifer; Aujla, Imogen; Redding, Emma; Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences; Curtin University; University of Birmingham; University of Bedfordshire; et al. (Elsevier, 2016-07-09)
      Objectives This longitudinal study examined potential predictors of disordered eating attitudes (DEA) for male and female dancers, with a particular focus on whether environmental predictors (perceptions of task- and ego-involving motivational climate) added significantly to the prediction made by intrapersonal predictor variables (demographics/training, self-esteem, perfectionism). Methods and Design Young dancers (N = 597, 73.4% female, M = 14.69 years old, SD = 2.04) from UK Centres for Advanced Training completed questionnaires 1–5 times over a two-year period, depending on how long they were enrolled at their centre. Multilevel modelling was employed to examine both between- and within-person predictors of DEA. Results For females, lower self-esteem and higher perfectionistic concerns were significant between-person predictors of DEA. Increased levels of perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns were significant within-person predictors. For males, increased perfectionistic concerns and perceptions of the motivational climate as more task- and ego-involving were significant between-person predictors of DEA. No significant within-person predictors emerged. Conclusions Findings contribute to the literature on DEA in aesthetic activities and the debate concerning the (mal-)adaptiveness of perfectionistic strivings. They also raise questions about how environmental aspects should best be conceptualized and measured in studies of this type. In particular, however, results demonstrate that the predictors of DEA among males and females may not be the same, and suggest that future interventions may therefore need to be sex-specific.