Relationships between dance, health and aesthetic performance in a company of mature dancers: An exploratory study

Claire Farmer, Helen Laws, Stella Eldon, Russell Maliphant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dance with the older body is often viewed as a means to slow the physiological and cognitive decline associated with ageing or chronic health conditions. However, little research has investigated the aesthetic qualities and performance potential of mature dancers and how this might influence health outcomes. During a choreographic project bringing together a renowned contemporary dance company with one of mature dancers, a co-designed, mixed-methods approach was taken to explore the impact of a somatically informed approach to choreography on the dancers’ movement quality, efficiency and performance aesthetics. Quality-of-life measurements showed no significant differences between pre-and post-choreographic project, although high scores suggested good overall health amongst participants. Subjective changes in movement quality were observed alongside improvements in balance ability ascribed to the inward focus of the somatically informed creative process. Participants commented that they were able to achieve more, physically and aesthetically, than they had previously believed possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-216
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Dance and Somatic Practices
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


This study was supported by the:
• Russell Maliphant Dance Company
• Arts Council England


  • balance
  • choreography
  • later life
  • movement
  • older adults
  • physiology
  • somatics
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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