• 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.
    • The negotiation of significance in dance performance: a model for human interaction in the context of difference

      Carr, Jane (Boomsbury, 2020-11-29)
      This chapter explores how dance may be appreciated in a contemporary context in which it can no longer be assumed that performers and audience make sense of dancing with reference to a shared culture. Writing from my position as a former dancer and now dance academic, I draw upon my experiences of dancing, researching and teaching dance with the aim of proposing some avenues ripe for philosophical investigation. Emphasizing that dancing is a communicative phenomenon, I argue that the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides welcome recognition of the human capacity for intersubjective, embodied experience which is of key importance to engagement with dancing as meaningful. I propose how the significance of dance performance might be understood through a process of negotiation grounded in intercorporeal experience. However, I recognize the challenge of difference – in relation to gender, sexualities, and/or cultures and abilities - to the self-other relationships which sustain such negotiations. Finally, I situate these reflections within the broader field of philosophical aesthetics to consider the potential of such encounters to contribute to aesthetic values attributed to dance.
    • Dynamics of rest: more reflections on somatic practice, pain and resting

      Ashley, Tamara (2020-09-21)
      I am going to look at the dynamics of rest in embodied practice. In particular, I look at the interplay between doing and not doing in somatic practice, in pain and trauma contexts. My reflections are situated in my practice as a yoga, dance and somatic teacher.
    • 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.
    • Dance, diaspora and the role of the archives: a dialogic reflection upon the Black Dance Arcives Project (UK)

      Carr, Jane; Baddoo, Deborah; University of Bedfordshire; State of Emergency Productions (Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2020-05-01)
      The Black Dance Archives project collected materials that record the activities of black British artists who created and performed dance predominantly in the later years of the twentieth century. Through the form of a dialogue we bring the perspective of the dance producer who led the project together with a more academic interest in the potential of the materials collected to contribute to dance research. Our shared reflections reveal how a focus on archiving the work of dance artists of diasporic heritage emphasizes that dance, as a form of intangible cultural heritage, is particularly vulnerable to becoming lost to future generations. This leads to reflections upon the role of dance archives within the context of post-colonial Britain that brings to the fore some of the complexities of the archival process and the significance of how this project resulted in materials being dispersed across different institutions.
    • 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.
    • ‘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.
    • The possibilities of different geographies

      Carr, Jane; Sharp, Bruce (2019-09-20)
      Revision of work presented as part of Dorothy 139
    • 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.
    • The practice of solidarity through the arts: inter-relations and shared moments of creation in Share My Table

      Evans, Catrin; (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 2019-07-14)
      In 2017 the Scottish Refugee Council and Tramway embarked on a collaborative participatory arts project seeking to explore the upsurge in media coverage around issues of migration. Share My Table took a multi-artform approach, with performance and visual art providing the foundation for the exploration. This article, written from the position of artist researcher, shifts the lens away from the artistic or performance outputs of this participatory project, and instead reflects and theorises the working practices which emerged throughout the Share My Table project. By drawing on bell hooks’s work on practices of freedom (1994), and James Thompson’s call for a re-focusing towards affect, beauty and care (2011, 2015), the author argues for participatory practice’s radical potential. Ultimately, the how of participatory work, the careful and ethical attention on the doing can activate solidarity in relation to the asylum regime.
    • Book review: Joanna Dee Das, Katherine Dunham: Dance and the African Diaspora

      Carr, Jane (Edinburgh University Press, 2019-05-31)
      Review of Katherine Dunham Dance and the African Diaspora Joanna Dee Das, Oxford University Press, 2017 9780190264871
    • 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.
    • Improvisational practices in jazz dance battles

      Carr, Jane; Lewis, Irven (OUP, 2019-04-09)
      With specific reference to bebop, one of the new styles of improvised jazz dancing that developed in Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this essay explores the improvisatory practices associated with the dance challenges, or battles, which were an integral feature of the club scenes within which this dancing emerged. Drawing on the authors’ different perspectives—Irven Lewis’s firsthand experiences of dancing and teaching this style together with Jane Carr’s analysis of the embodied experiences of dance—allows for reflection on the improvisatory practices and their significance. The pan-African cultural influence on the development of jazz dancing is recognized alongside consideration of how this particular style of dancing embodied resistance to a binary division of Western/Africanist culture. Further, the improvised dancing is shown to be reciprocally related to the specific contexts within which it is practised, by virtue of the complex interrelationships between those participating.
    • Improvisation and the Earth: dancing in the moment as ecological practice

      Ashley, Tamara (Oxford University Press, 2019-04-09)
      In the chapter, I draw upon artistic practice research to discuss the construction of improvisation scores as a deeply site-sensitive, time-sensitive and person-sensitive process that leads to the construction of specific micro-relations that connect specific practitioners to specific places on the earth. These micro-relations manifest as mindful actions in the detailed cultivation of the earth as a score, where the artists can become concerned with the relational dimensions of their actions in terms of sustainability. I propose that the cultivation of mindfulness and explicit intention of each and every gesture as a contribution to the cultivation of the earth as score is where the ethical work of the artists resides. The chapter offers a broad, questioning and critical perspective on how the practices of improvisation might contribute to the development of a future dance ecology that is both sustainable and inter-connected. Dance improvisation is thus proposed as an activist and applied practice that enables the experiential examination of ecologically sensitive relations, and I assert that the future of the dance ecology is entwined with how we relate to and embody the places in which dance is made.
    • Yielding as an ecologically sensitive and somatic practice

      Ashley, Tamara (2019-03-20)
      These yielding practices are designed to anchor your perception of nature in your senses. They enable you to focus on different senses in the natural environment and observe the emerging relationships. Most practices in this Toolkit are available as recordings, which you can listen to through your device or headphones. However, to benefit most from the sensory immersion in a natural environment that the yielding practice advocates, we recommend that you read the PDF script in advance (link below), print it, and then go outdoors with this score as your guide. Take your time with each invitation: perhaps only try 1 or 2 of the practices at first. Repetition of the practices can be helpful in observing changing perceptual and experiential relationships with nature over time.
    • 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.
    • ECITE 2018 in Belgium

      Ashley, Tamara; European Contact Improvisation Teacher Exchange (Contact Collaborations, 2019-01-01)
      Report for the main journal in the field on the event where I was given a funded place to attend in order to document and report on the event.
    • The possibilities of different geographies

      Carr, Jane; Sharp, Bruce (Intellect, 2018-12-31)
      'The Possibilities of Different Geographies’ is the title of a dance work Jane Carr and Bruce Sharp  first created in 1997 that investigated the significance of human embodiment. Twenty years later they revisited the themes informing their earlier work in order to create a participatory performance-installation focused on the significance of the embodied dimensions of intersubjective experience.   The authors present the philosophical and political ideas underpinning their aims to challenge the boundaries that act as limits upon how humans experience their embodied identities and reflect on how, in developing the project, artistic and activist principles became interwoven. They describe the creation of movement scores for participants to perform and consider how elements of movement, sound, lighting and opportunities for reflection contribute to an environment that affords creative participation focused on the intercorporeal dimension of human geographies.  
    • 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.