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New research from Queensland University of Technology says that ballet improves the overall wellbeing of older adults and has a tremendously positive influence on several health categories. More specifically, the report “Ballet Moves for Adult Creative Health” showed that seniors involved in a three-month ballet project had higher energy levels, improved posture and flexibility, and a greater sense of achievement.

In 2017, Queensland Ballet started the Ballet Moves for Adult Creative Health: a project designed to employ as well as investigate research surrounding the positive effects ballet has on active older individuals. The organization’s Director of Strategy and Global Engagement, Felicity Mandile, says the ultimate goal was to better understand the motivations, needs, and desires of current and potential ballet class participants, which Queensland Ballet could then use to create successful programs for them.

According to the report recently released by Queensland Ballet, stage one of 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 says she was not surprised by the team’s findings, regarding the participants’ reported motivations and benefits.

Several motivations include social interaction, accessibility, and a simple love for ballet; participants enjoy being part of a group, they feel confident in their ability to perform, and they truly love to dance ballet. Several perceived benefits include feeling more energetic, in shape, and generally in good physical health. Furthermore, participants felt an increased sense of accomplishment and experienced greater levels of happiness.

Professor Gene Moyle, performance psychologist and former professional ballet dancer, from QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty, said that any form of movement or physical activity has a critical and positive influence on aging: “The physical benefits of movement and dance on aging bodies is well documents and our project really reinforces these findings, however additionally highlights the joy and benefits social connections in dance can bring to people’s lives.”

The teachers of the ballet classes also thoroughly enjoy the experience and create personal relationships with their students. Zurvas, a Ballet for Seniors teacher is quoted in the report as saying: “It is a group that you develop, I guess, closer relationships with than most classes, just for the feeling of the environment and also because they’re so invested in you, they really want to know about you and your life.”

In addition to their Ballet for Seniors classes, Queensland Ballet offers a multitude of other classes including Dance for Parkinson’s class, which was developed specifically for people with the disease. According to Mandile, the company will continue to explore how they can help different members of their community, and this data will help them do so.

Sources:
Queensland University of Technology (2018, April 4). Dancing Aids Healthier Aging. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved April 4, 2018 from http://neurosciencenews.com/aging-dancing-8731/

Queensland Ballet. (2018, March) Ballet Moves for Adult Creative Health. Retrieved April 6, 2018 from https://www.queenslandballet.com.au/files/files/Queensland%20Ballet%20-%20Balet%20Moves%20for%20Adult%20Creative%20Health%20report%202018.pdf

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