Dancer Health

Research shows ballet aides in healthier ageing

Ballet for Seniors. Photo by Christian Tiger.
Ballet for Seniors. Photo by Christian Tiger.

Queensland Ballet and QUT released the results of a joint project examining the health and wellbeing benefits of ballet for older Australians.

The three-month project, incorporating 10 Ballet for Seniors classes, found participants experienced higher energy levels, greater flexibility, improved posture and an enhanced sense of achievement. They also felt happier and enjoyed a sense of community and friendship.

Due to its strong commitment to arts and health practice, Queensland Ballet initiated the Ballet Moves for Adult Creative Health in 2017, a multi-stage project to investigate, develop and disseminate evidence-based practice findings related to the delivery of ballet to active older adults.

Queensland Ballet Director of Strategy and Global Engagement Felicity Mandile says the project aimed to provide a detailed understanding of the motivations and experiences of ballet class participants and potential participants to inform how QB could best deliver programs that addressed their needs.

“We’re thrilled to have this research underpinning what we do, as it enables us to offer meaningful engagement programs for our participants rather than just giving them what we think they want and need,” Mandile says. 

Stage One involved a research project in partnership with QUT and supported by the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative.

Ballet for Seniors. Photo by Christian Tiger.

Ballet for Seniors. Photo by Christian Tiger.

“The project critically investigated older adults’ motivations to participate in ballet, the health and wellbeing outcomes for active older adults, and the examination of the teaching practices involved in this delivery,” Mandile explains. “We weren’t surprised by the research findings strongly indicating that ballet participation is considered to be a highly pleasurable activity for active older adults; we were pleasantly surprised by the flow on effects of that. It found that ballet participation may contribute to positive outcomes across various health and wellbeing categories and promotes a general feeling of wellbeing.”

Performance psychologist and former professional ballet dancer Professor Gene Moyle from QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty says movement, be it dance or other forms of exercise, was a critical factor in better ageing.

“The physical benefits of movement and dance on ageing bodies is well documented, and our project really re-enforces these findings, however additionally highlights the joy and benefits social connections in dance can bring to people’s lives,” says Moyle, who is also a board member of Queensland Ballet. “Some of the participants reported that they found the classes positively euphoric and transformational in the pleasure they felt at being part of such weekly social engagement.”

Moyle and Professor Graham Kerr from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation have previously partnered with Queensland Ballet on a Dance for Parkinson’s program.

Mandile says the company hopes to continue partnering with QUT to explore more ways in which ballet could have positive outcomes across various community sectors.

Queensland Ballet public dance class program includes Ballet for Seniors classes, which run weekly, as well as a Dance for Parkinson’s class specifically designed for people living with Parkinson’s Disease.

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