The GuiDANCE Network

Helping dance teachers develop and support young people as they mature

Although dance teachers work primarily with children and young people, they are often not provided with adequate information or support surrounding the topic of growth and development. Understanding how to ensure practices promote healthy physical and mental development and are in line with or sensitive to trajectories of development is central to the wellbeing of children participating in the performing arts. The work of the GuiDANCE Network aims to address the challenges associated with pubertal transition in dance for young people and to better equip the sector to better support healthy child and adolescent development.

The GuiDANCE Network is a project which has been borne out of a desire to continue the work started in the original GuiDANCE project. The GuiDANCE project - Growing up in dance: Enhancing education and creating sustainable practices in growth and maturation - (2021-2022) was a collaboration between the University of Exeter (UoE), the Royal Ballet School (RBS), the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and One Dance UK (ODUK) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). As a partnership, we aimed to address the challenges associated with pubertal transition in dance for young people. More specifically, co-creating a model of best practice for managing growth and development in dance to equip the sector to better support healthy adolescent development within vocational and recreational dance settings.

The GuiDANCE project accomplished the following aims:

  • To develop a dataset on the growth and development of young people in dance training which can underpin recommendations going forward
  • To review practices and protocols in the dance sector around growth and development
  • To evaluate and refine the education available on this topic within the dance sector
  • To work with partners to co-create guidelines for best practice for managing growth and development in dance

The project benefited from two advisory groups – a dance teacher advisory group and a vocational dance student advisory group - who helped to shape the project from the beginning.

What is the network?

The GuiDANCE Network project is comprised of original GuiDANCE project members (UoE, RAD, ODUK, RBS, teachers and students) and has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (2022-2023). The Network aims to capitalise on the momentum and partnerships built during the GuiDANCE project and to cultivate impact through supporting a network for engagement between researchers and three key collaborating organisations, RBS, RAD and ODUK. More specifically, to convert the progress made in the GuiDANCE project into tangible resources for the dance sector and to set up a network to support and sustain this work going forward. Continuing to work with these partners and working to establish a network led by these partners will promote a significant impact across the UK dance sector; the partners representing recreational dance (RAD, ODUK), vocational dance (RBS), teacher training (RBS, RAD, ODUK) and dancer training (RBS), as well as advocacy for the sector more broadly (ODUK).

The aims of the group are to:

  • Establish a network across members of partner organisations to support the application of work developed in the GuiDANCE project
  • Engage the network to begin to co-create resources and practice in line with the best practice guidelines developed in the GuiDANCE project
  • Establish a repository of information and resources led by the network
  • Provide a space for collaborating organisations to work together towards something which benefits the dance sector as a whole
  • Share key resources and learning with the wider dance sector

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Please contact if you have any queries regarding GUIdance, and we will be happy to direct you to the project leads.