• 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.
    • 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.
    • ‘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.
    • 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.
    • 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.