Shall we dance?

Yorkshire Dance and researchers from Biomedical Sciences and the Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences have been awarded £100,000 to study the impact of a youth dance programme.

Dancer in Leeds - image credit: Lizzie Coombes and Yorkshire Dance


The programme, funded by Arts Council England, aims to deepen knowledge and understanding of the impact of arts and culture and the complex role it plays in our experience as individuals and on the fabric of our society.

The research will involve tracking young people in deprived neighbourhoods of East Leeds over 12 months, involving those undertaking the dance programme and a control group. The study will examine the holistic benefits of dance programmes for young people in deprived communities, aiming to explore health, well-being, social, behavioural and emotional outcomes.

Dr Shaunna Burke, Lecturer in Exercise and Health Psychology in the School of Biomedical Sciences, says: “The health benefits of engaging in physical activity for children and young people are well known but studies focused on non-traditional forms of sport and physical activity for youth in deprived communities are relatively neglected in the physical activity research literature. This project will allow us to build on this existing body of knowledge by investigating the impact that taking part in an innovative recreational dance programme has on the health, wellbeing, and sense of empowerment of young people and their families who live in deprived urban areas.”

Paul Burns, Interim Artistic Director of Yorkshire Dance, says of the award: “Yorkshire Dance is delighted to have been awarded this research grant. We are immensely proud of our work with young people and constantly witness the positive effects that participation in dance has as on each individual, whether it be through enhancing their technique, their fitness, social skills or emotional well being.

“We welcome the opportunity this grant gives us to measure this impact and to use this to further advocate for the importance of dance activity with young people. We are also pleased to develop our valued relationship with University of Leeds and build on our two previous research collaborations.”

Posted in: