Video transcript: Sarah Astill & Sarah Lyon discuss 'Dancing in Time' research project

Transcript for the Sarah Astill & Sarah Lyon discuss 'Dancing in Time' research project video embedded on the Dancing in Time research project with Yorkshire Dance case study page.

[The screen reads Welcome to the Cultural Institute, then the names Sarah Astill and Sarah Lyon.] 

[A view of the stage in the Great Hall at the University of Leeds appears on the screen. Yorkshire Dance's Youth and Community Dance Manager Sarah Lyon is standing at a podium on the stage. Dr Sarah Astill is standing behind her.] 

[Sarah Lyon says:] Good afternoon, my name is Sarah Lyon and I’m the Youth and Community Dance Manager at Yorkshire Dance. 

Yorkshire Dance is the dance development organization for Yorkshire and a national portfolio organization for the Arts Council England. 

Yorkshire Dance champions the value of dance and a development of dance across Yorkshire, and we do so through three different strands: investing in artists and artist development, encouraging participation across different communities, and through advocacy and strategic development both regionally and across the north. 

Today we're really pleased to talk to you about our recent project Dancing in Time. This was a collaboration between Yorkshire Dance, the University of Leeds and Leeds Public Health.  

Behind us, you're going to see some photos and some quotes from some of the older adults that took part in that research project. 

[A photograph of a group of older people, some seated, some stood, raising their arms in the air, is displayed on a projector screen behind Sarah Lyon and Sarah Astill.] 

[Sarah Lyon steps back, and Dr Sarah Astill takes her place at the podium.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] Good afternoon everybody, my name is Dr Sarah Astill and I'm based in the School of Biomedical Sciences, which is 

part of the Faculty of Biological Sciences here at the University. I am the academic lead on this collaborative project. 

Now we know today that falling is a serious common cause of injuries in older adults and prevention of injuries associated with falling is a public health target, not only around the world, but here in the city of Leeds too.  

We know that while falls are multifactorial in nature, research shows us that there are modifiable risk factors. 

These include physical risk factors, such as reduced levels of physical activity, poor balance and muscle weakness. There are also psychosocial risk factors, these include depression, cognitive impairment, and a fear of falling or falls-related self-efficacy. 

[A quote is displayed behind Dr Astill which reads: “I think this dance class is lovely, but it’s not really dance to me, it’s more like exercise, you know. Well it’s a mixture, I could express myself more and do a little more here among people that I wouldn’t at home.”] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] Now we know that physical activity and exercise programs can be one common and effective strategy for reducing falls. However not everybody feels comfortable accessing these.  

We also know that there are ballroom dance studies showing that ballroom dancing and social dancing can help prevent falls.  

However, many older adults really struggle to access these, they can be difficult to learn, remember the steps, often they need a partner, and for some, they’re just no longer quick enough to keep time with the music. 

[A photograph of an elderly woman, seated, holding her hands up to touch the palms of a younger woman stood in front of her, appears on the projector screen behind Dr Astill.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] What we would suggest is that contemporary dance offers an alternative to ballroom and social dancing. It is open to anybody, regardless of their baseline physical condition. 

It offers the opportunity to improvise or interpret music or feelings of an individual person-centered level. And it also includes elements of aerobic exercise, balance activity, low level resistance, and moves enhance flexibility. 

For this collaborative study we developed a small-scale pilot study to examine the effect of contemporary dance on physical and psychosocial risk factors, with community developing – sorry - adults who are living in the community. 

[A photograph of a group of elderly adults waving colorful scarves appears behind Dr Astill.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] We used a variety of questionnaires and motor tasks to document the changes in these physical and psychosocial risk factors. And, we also asked the older adults to come and talk to us about how they felt the participation in the dance program had affected them.  

[Dr Astill steps back from the podium, Sarah Lyon takes her place.] 

[Sarah Lyon says:] The intervention comprised a 10-week dance program, delivered by dance artists in local community facilities, across three neighborhood network sites in Leeds. 

[A quote is displayed behind Sarah Lyon which reads: “We’ve actually used our brain to put the exercise that we’ve done into a little routine, a little dance. When I get home I like to practice, in my head, to get my brain working.”] 

[Sarah Lyon says:] As Sarah mentioned, contemporary dance is ideal because it can be low-impact and it's person-centered. 

One of the key elements that we were working with was skilled practitioners that understood and could bring their contemporary dance training, skills and expertise, and successfully applied these within these settings. 

The structure included check-in with the participants, warm-up, taught tasks and didactic movement, creative elements, a cool down and then a check out with those participants.  

[A photograph of a circle of women with their arms in the air is displayed behind Sarah Lyon.] 

[Sarah Lyon says:] And the ethos behind the program included focus on creativity, the individuals’ movement, choice, adaptable and accessible movements, the use of breath, the use of props, and the sense that everyone is equal.  

At the end of each 10-week program, each group hosted their own sharing, whereby families, friends and staff could come and join the group in celebrating their work so far. 

[A photograph is displayed behind Sarah Lyons of one of the sharing sessions. It shows an elderly man, seated, and an elderly woman and younger woman stood next to him – all three are dancing. People can be seen sat in front of them, watching.] 

[Sarah Lyon says:] This consisted of the participants showing the audience some of the tasks and activities they'd been doing, the audiences joining in with some of those tasks, and then time to chat and to share their experiences with each other. 

[Sarah Lyon steps back from the podium, Dr Astill steps forward and takes her place.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] So in order to assess the effect of the dance on physical risk factors, we measured balance, we measured levels of physical activity. 

To assess the effect of the dance on psychosocial risk factors we measured mood, and we also measured something called fall self-efficacy, and this is essentially how confident an older person feels performing activities of daily living without falling. 

[A quote appears behind Dr Astill which reads: “It did a lot for my morale. because you were treating us like creative adults, not the sort of thing you’d expect for elderly people.”] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] These measures were taken prior to participating in the dance, and then after they completed 20 90-minute sessions of contemporary dance. 

We also held three focus groups, where we asked participants how the dance had affected them, and what they thought the barriers and enablers for contemporary dance for older adults were. 

So, we had 38 older adults participating in our dance program across our three sites. The mean age was 74 years and our oldest participant was 92. 

[A photograph of a young woman smiling and hugging an elderly woman is displayed behind Dr Sarah Astill.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] There was a mean adherence rate of 84 percent, effectively what this means is that out of the 20 sessions offered, on average 17 of them were accessed by each individual. 

[A photograph of the older adults in the program dancing in a room is displayed behind Dr Sarah Astill.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] This adherence rate is very similar to other falls related programs, if not better. Our data also showed that contemporary dance can modify some of those intrinsic physical and psychosocial risk factors. 

For example, we noted that the older adults were more active. Over sixty percent of our participants raised the levels of moderate physical activity they were doing each week.  

We also saw that over eighty percent of our participants improved their balance ability, and their balance abilities were now comparable to those that are measured in people that were 60 years of age – some 10 years if not 15, 20 years younger than our participants.  

We also showed that the older adults just felt far more comfortable and confident that they wouldn't fall while undertaking many activities of daily living, and these include things that you and I might take for granted, such as cooking themselves a simple meal, rushing to answer the telephone, or just going up and down stairs. 

[A quote displayed behind Dr Astill reads: “You feel better coming here. Yeah, and I think if you’re feeling a bit shy it helps bring you out. I mean I’m doing things now in this that 10 years ago I would never, ever have done.”] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] Finally, we saw an improvement in mood. The older adults felt happier about their lives and happier about themselves in general after participating in the dance program.  

The data from the focus groups gave further insight into the effect that dance had on the participants, and we captured aspects that no questionnaire ever could, as you can read from some of the quotes that we've shown you here today. 

So overall the data shows the dance program appeared acceptable to participants and feasible to implement in the community.  

[A photograph of a group from the program: older men and women sat seated in a group, some with their arms raised.] 

[Dr Sarah Astill says:] We have two of our groups that were included in this project still dancing today with the numbers growing month-on-month. 

Moving forward together with Leeds Public Health and Yorkshire Dance, we've just submitted a grant to the Wellcome Trust for 90,000 pounds, and if we're successful over half of that money will go to Yorkshire Dance to implement more dance programs in the community. 

In this project we hope not only to grow our sample size, but to also use a waitlist control group to enable us to assess the effectiveness of dance in preventing falls, compared to what might be considered standard care. 

[Dr Sarah Astill steps back from the podium, Sarah Lyon steps forward to take her place.] 

[Sarah Lyon says:] We would like to end by acknowledging the funding sources that has made this body of work possible. 

These include the University of Leeds Cultural Institute, Leeds Community Health Care Trust, Leeds Directorate of Public Health and the Wellcome Trust. 

This whole project could not have been undertaken without the contributions of many other people. We would like to specifically thank Wieke Eringa, Chief Executive Officer of Yorkshire Dance, and Richard Porter, Older People's Health Improvement Officer, Leeds Directorate of Public Health. 

We also want to express our gratitude to the older adults of Leeds who participated in the program and added to the richness of the research project overall. 

[Dr Astill and Sarah Lyon walk off stage as the audience applauds. The video ends with a screen containing the University logo.]