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Cutting Edge
How Different Dance Forms Construct a Sense of Community Amongst Older People

Abstract

The concept of communitas, or a sense of community constructed through dance, has
been explored in relation to older people involved in ballroom dancing (Thomas and Cooper, 2002,2003; Cooper and Thomas, 2002). One of the problems with ballroom dancing, however, tends to be that with the death of a dancing partner, older people often find it difficult to continue participating. Circle dancing and Scottish Country dancing are two dance forms where a particular dancing partner is not required. This present study aimed to evaluate the health benefits for older people of participating in these two forms of dance through using participant observation, writing an ethnographic dance diary and tape-recording narrative style interviews with older dancers. Circle dances are performed in a Circle, sometimes holding hands, sometimes not holding hands. Scottish Country dances are performed in sets of six to ten people and although people may have a particular dancing partner for the duration of a dance, it is the custom to change partners after each dance. It is possible for women to dance as men in Scottish Country dancing. This paper argues that Circle dance and Scottish Country dance are very conducive to constructing a sense of community amongst older people. There are opportunities to participate actively in the particular ‘cultures of dance’ besides additional opportunities to socialise as a member of a dance group. It is concluded that, as such, Circle and Scottish Country dance can be an empowering activity for some older people.


Article:How Difference Dance Forms Construct a Sense of Community.pdf
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