Active older people participating in creative dance - challenging perceptions

Richards, Jacqueline (2018) Active older people participating in creative dance - challenging perceptions. DProf thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This case-study research report explores “active older people participating in creative dance”, implications and benefits for individuals and society and ways people from different work sectors, organisations and academic disciplines can work together. The research period March 2011 – 2016 includes social/political contexts where financial recession, demographic change and the ageing population require new solutions to meet local and national challenges. The research’s four phases involve new work and research with increasing reflexivity between them benefitting practice and informing the research. There are three aspects of inquiry: older people who have chosen to dance at this stage of their lives, my work practice and desk-top research including social gerontology, dance, community development, boundary-spanning, image, connectedness and spirituality. The research adapts overtime, benefitting from my varied positionalities as an older person and dancer having access to others choosing to dance, using skills and expertise from my previous teaching and management careers and voluntary work to new evolving work activities. This includes founding/managing a local grassroots older people’s creative dance organisation, performing dance, local and national networking and advising. The research includes conversations with some dance-providers and decision-makers in addition to in-depth phenomenological conversational interviews with eleven non-professional older dancers. Examples of the older dancers’ narratives bring new insights and vibrancy to the research. Their texts were carefully transcribed, then using NVIVO 10 software, analysed and interpreted. Emerging topics interweave with other data and evidence from literature and new reports, autoethnography, observations and live evidence from work activities. Self-designed models, tools and matrices give the research underpinning structures and ways to analyse, interpret and synthesise the different data. The research becomes an analytical, reflexive, creative “dancing-journey”.

Topics emerge from themes involving individuals, active older people, dance, especially creative dance, participation, images and challenging perceptions. It increasingly becomes multidisciplinary with transdisciplinarity (Gibbs & Maguire 2015; Nicolescu, 2008). The results include fifteen findings and ten recommendations. Relevant terminology for those aged 50-105+ years is lacking, and they are not one cohort but individuals and groups with different life-styles and needs. Ageism needs to be actively challenged. “Active older people’s creative dance” is becoming mainstream and more dance choices need to be available. Decision/policy makers need to consider dance activities seriously because dance contributes to many older people becoming involved in arts, leisure and cultural activities and having better health and wellbeing in later life. Collaboration between different factions of the dance world will give dance more recognition and a stronger voice. More age-friendly environments are needed with dance being available for all who want to participate. Grass-roots organisations and independent dance-artists/facilitators require support and resources. Boundary-spanning and joined-up thinking across organisations encourages new solutions to be found to meet some 21st century issues. Dance challenges perceptions about ageing, contributing to understanding, connectedness and spirituality and brings people together.

This work-based research makes a timely contribution, bringing together older people’s voices, work-based practice, theory and learning to create new knowledge that can inform future research and practice, whether large or small scale.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 23514
Depositing User: Vimal Shah
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2018 10:48
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:16

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