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The Leverhulme Trust Award Grant for Ground-Breaking Dance Science Research at Laban examining the i

The Leverhulme Trust Award Grant for Ground-Breaking Dance Science Research at Laban


The Leverhulme Trust has awarded a £183, 917 research project grant to help fund a ground-breaking three year longitudinal dance science project at Laban, the internationally renowned centre for contemporary dance training.  The study will use scientific methods to examine the processes of identifying and developing talent in dancers aged 11-18 years. 


The innovative project, entitled ‘The identification and development of contemporary dance talent in young people: An interdisciplinary longitudinal research project’ will study approximately 300 young people training at the six government funded Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) in dance around the country.  The CATs are a recent initiative funded and developed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Music and Dance Scheme to identify and nurture exceptionally talented young dancers.


The research is interdisciplinary, measuring the physiological, biomechanical and psychological characteristics of talent in dance and exploring the factors that may contribute to its optimal development.  Qualitative interview-based research will also explore how these factors relate to creativity.


The research questions were developed in consultation with the six national dance CATs of which Laban is one.  Research will be carried out with the full cohort of CAT dance students nationally, providing a unique opportunity to combine the dance science knowledge and expertise of the Laban team with the ‘on the ground’ dance experience and understanding provided by the CATs.  The project’s findings will contribute to the development of the CAT programme, ensuring that the dance training scheme is developed in a rigorous and consistent way.  The findings will also inform pedagogic practice with young people across the wider sphere of dance education.


This is the first time a study has examined young contemporary dancers in depth from a scientific perspective or in a longitudinal fashion.  Never before have dancers of any age or dance genre been studied in an interdisciplinary project that measures the characteristics of dance talent and their interrelationships and potential links to performance and creativity.  It is also the first time an organization has been in the position to follow a population of young people already identified as talented across a period of three years, thus enabling the notion of talent to be studied in depth. 


The project has been made possible by the very significant support of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) both through the initiation and sustaining of the CAT programme and considerable provision towards the core costs of this research.


Principal investigator and Laban’s MSc Dance Science Programme Leader Emma Redding: "A research project such as this has never before been undertaken. This grant will allow Laban, in collaboration with the other Centres for Advanced Training, to scientifically investigate contemporary dance talent development in young people. I hope that the findings will inform and enhance dance teaching practices, helping to provide the country’s talented young dancers with world-class training opportunities".


Anthony Bowne, Director of Laban: “We are very grateful to both The Leverhulme Trust and the DCSF for enabling this innovative research.  The project is in a strong position to advance knowledge within the areas of physiology and psychology for young talented dancers, looking at issues such as physical fitness, growth and injury.  We hope the findings will contribute to the physical and psychological well-being of young dancers in the UK, providing them with the chance to flourish.” 


Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House: “Dance training tends to be based on tradition and personal experience rather than scientific fact.  I highlighted the need for quantitative research into the impact of dance training on children and young people in the recently published Dance Review, commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.  I am extremely excited about this new research project and its potential impact for developing excellence in dance training for young people.”




For more information, images or to speak to Emma Redding or Anthony Bowne, please contact Miranda Harris, Public Relations and Communications Manager, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, 020 8305 4439, [email protected]


Editors Notes


Centres for Advanced Training

Dance CATs in England: Dance City Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne; Dance East Academy, Ipswich, Suffolk (pilot year 2007/08); Laban, SE London; London Contemporary Dance School at The Place, London; Swindon Dance Academy, Swindon, Wiltshire; Yorkshire Young Dancers (in partnership with Northern Ballet Theatre and Northern Contemporary Dance School in Leeds).  Further details on the Music and Dance Scheme and Centres for Advanced Training can be found at



Laban is an internationally renowned conservatoire for professional contemporary dance training, at the forefront of developing undergraduate, postgraduate and professional level courses. Based in an awe-inspring landmark building in Deptford Creekside, SE8, state-of-the-art facilities include 13 dance studios, a health suite, café and 300-seat purpose built theatre. 


Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

In 2005 Laban merged with leading music college Trinity College of Music to become Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.


Dance Science

Dance Science is a relatively new but fast growing area of research and study. By recognising the dancer as an athlete and investigating the dancer from physiological, biomechanical and psychological perspectives, the aim of dance science is to enhance dance training practices and optimise the dancer’s potential as an elite performer.


The Leverhulme Trust

The Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest all subjects providers of research funding in the UK, distributing funds of some £40 million every year. For further information about all of the schemes that the Leverhulme Trust fund please visit their website at







Trinity Laban

Conservatoire of Music and Dance

King Charles Court

Old Royal Naval College



SE10 9JF UK          

T +44 (0)20 8305 4439

F +44 (0)20 8305 9444

[email protected]



Trinity Laban is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales Company No: 51090 Registered Charity No: 30998


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