Transforming recreational ballet into a spatio-pedagogic experience to promote wellbeing for experienced older dancers

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Purpose: Identifying a significant gap due to the perceived legacy of ballet as a privileged and exclusive art form, this small-scale study investigates necessary conditions that ‘grow’ inclusive spatio-pedagogic experiences for diverse mature adults underpinned by ‘democratic dialogue’
Background: This transdisciplinary study explores innovative ways of transforming the impact of recreational ballet experiences of an ‘invisible’ yet growing sector of mature adults, on their identity, self-esteem and wellbeing. Research studies into benefits of recreational ballet focus on specific impact factors including mental health, ageing and physical mobility without attention to adults wanting to progress their prior learning experiences that might impact wellbeing through self-value as ‘achieving’ learners, regardless of age or previous ballet learning.
Methods: Human subjects committee approved the study, participants consented. Ten classes were organised for non-beginner ballet learners, facilitated by one teacher and a pianist. The study began with; individual recorded narratives positioning each participant in terms of prior experiences, attitudes, aspirations for continuing ballet learning, and recorded discussions between participants and teacher to determine how to co-create a sense of shared, safe pedagogic space. After each class, the dancer-researchers wrote individual reflexive journals using emergent spatio-pedagogic strands (physical/psychological/cognitive/social) to document making-meaning of experiential complexities and individual identities of becoming an ‘achieving’ dancer. Reflexive Thematic Analysis was applied (Braun & Clarke, 2019). The researchers were the participants in the study. Inhabiting dual roles, we wanted to uncover opportunities and challenges of learning and being (Probst, 2016).
Discussion: Drawing psychology, medical and dance sciences, we used our expertise in theories of space, place, language and cognition, foregrounding co-constructing pedagogic ballet spaces. We offer new thinking into the potential of a vital community-based activity for wellbeing, potentially changing attitudes towards sustainable practices for mature adult dance-learners. The research questions guiding the discussion are: How do mature adult ballet dancers conceptualise ballet as a pedagogic experience? What are the necessary conditions for ballet classes to promote wellbeing in mature adult learners?
Period19 Oct 2024
Event titleInternational Association for Dance Medicine & Science: 34th Annual Conference
Event typeConference
Conference number34
LocationRimini, ItalyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational