Adding life to years
Text size:

Dancing in Time

Dancing in Time

Status: Ongoing


Leeds United Kingdom
Print this page City population: 79300020% over 60Practice started in 2015


This is a yearlong programme to deliver three ten-week dance projects for groups of older people who have little access to dance in three different areas of Leeds. The programme was developed following some research into enablers and barriers for older adults to engage in dance. The sessions take place twice a week and are fun and invigorating. The dance involves both structured movement and creative improvisation – with a piece of choreography being developed by the group over the 10 week period, culminating with a performance of the piece to a small group to celebrate their work. In addition to the benefits derived from this physical and musical stimulation, the participants also have an increase in socialization as they have tea and biscuits together following each session.The first two projects are complete, and the third is about to start. The dance projects are taking place at local venues in partnership with Neighbourhood Networks which are local voluntary organisations providing services and activities for older people. The programme has been commissioned by Leeds City Council, and is delivered by Yorkshire Dance working with two professional trained dance artists We will research the impact of dance on the health and wellbeing of older people, especially the impact on their physical activity levels, which is recognized as a primary factor in staying healthy and happy.


Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Desired outcome for older people:
Be mobile

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Accessibility
  • Inequities
  • Intergenerational activities

Other Issues: Decline in physical activity and psychosocial activity in older people

Contact details

Name: Porter, Richard

Email address:

Preferred language(s): English

Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community

Project lead: Local authorities

Older people’s involvement: Older people were involved in the age-friendly practice at multiple or all stages

Details on older people’s involvement: Older people were involved developing the programme through focus groups which considered the enablers and barriers to engaging with dance, and provided feedback on how best to implement a dance programme. Across the first two programmes, twenty five older adults engaged in 90 minutes of dance twice a week and the additional learning will be implemented onto the last dance programme.

Moving forward

Has the impact of this age-friendly practice been analysed: Yes

Please share with us what you found in detail:
To evaluate the impact of dance we have measured aspects of physical functioning, such as physical activity levels, balance and mobility, and psychosocial functioning e.g. fall- related self-efficacy, mood. Data is to be collected at 2 time points, pre and post the programme, to assess the effect that dance has had on these measures. Furthermore focus groups will examine, acceptability of dance, barriers to adherence, and suggestion for improvement. Adherence to the dance programme at site 1 was 81%, and ranged from 59%-100%. Initial data analysis from 11 individuals showed that participants were physically inactive, with much of the day spent sitting at the beginning of the programme and a general trend to be more active after the programme. Participants were more confident in their ability to balance, but little difference was seen in mood scores. Qualitative data indicate that the dance programme was viewed very positively, that seeing and working with people was an important part of the programme and confidence to be ‘visible’ and ‘perform’ grew throughout the programme. Participants suggest that sessions in local community facilitates are preferred, and other older adults should be involved in encouraging others to attend. Post data and qualitative data is soon to be collected at site 2, and the third site will start dancing end September.

One participant told us, “At first, I didn’t know what to expect, I thought it would just be exercise but it’s nothing like exercising, it’s dancing, which is great and I’ve really enjoyed it. Making friends, meeting other people and just basically having fun.”

Expansion plans:
The Middleton group loved the project so much that they are continuing to meet, and will carry on working independently with one contemporary dance session per week.

Looking back

The project has provided dance opportunities to older people in communities who previously may not have had the opportunity. The Dance programme has enabled older people to engage in learning something new; increase social connections and share their new learning with others. Learning a new skill, a new dance move is a positive outcome which has not been captured earlier.

The majority of older people who participated in the programme presented with a range of long term conditions. Participants found it a challenge to attend regularly because of other appointments; feeling unwell or forgetting to attend. It was important that the programme consistently runs at a familiar time; dance moves are modifiable and participants benefitted from practical resources. These practical resources for exapmple programme time table and regular contact external from the dance class aided attendance.

Age-Friendly World