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REDE Scoping Report

Research evidence synthesis involves the aggregation of available information using well-defined and transparent methods to search, summarize, and interpret a body of literature. The REDE Scoping reviews aim to answering broad questions and describe existing literature and other sources of information on REDE relevant topics. As the field of Dance Science is a relatively new research area, a scoping review can be a particularly useful approach as there exists few comprehensively reviewed topics.

Foto: Yaniv Cohen

The REDE Scoping review is an initially step towards creating a research -based foundation for future REDE studies, and aim to answering broad questions and describe existing literature on REDE relevant topics of a) teaching and learning in dance (pedagogy), and b) dance and mental health (dance science).

In the examination of how research was conducted, it was clear that the research within the two main topics of teaching and learning in dance (pedagogy) and dance and mental health (dance science) were methodological heterogeneous and positioned within quite different methodological research paradigms, affecting both the research quality and the applicability of the research.

A key finding in the first theme in the topic of ‘teaching and learning in dance’, dance culture, showed that dance practice is highly cultural constituted, affected by the worldviews of the two main teaching paradigms of traditionalism and progressivism, implicitly influencing the assumptions, beliefs, structures, power relations, ethics, aesthetics, and behavior of the dance teachers, dance students, and dancers.

These overarching paradigms in the dance culture set important frameworks of teaching and learning in dance. In turn, affecting the learning-processes into being mainly teacher-centered in line with the more traditional, individualized, and authoritarian conservatoire model on the one hand, or in line with a student-centered model based on more democratic, authoritative, and collaborative ways of learning on the other hand. The latter was proved to be more beneficial in relation to the third theme of being, as it seemed to nurture enhanced motivation, enjoyment, achievements, health, and well-being.

Considering the second topic, dance and mental health, the scoping review identified that there exist a set of stressors as determinants related to mental health (i.e., cultural-, interpersonal-, environmental-, situational-, and personal), affecting the mental health of dance students, dancers, and dance teachers. A key finding was that tradition is running deep in the dance culture, and that stressors such as cultural-, interpersonal-, and environmental- are mainly culturally embedded, which link the review’s first topic of teaching and learning in dance directly to the topic of dance and mental health. Another key finding was the identification of a range of personal stressors, that revealed that the dance students and dancers themselves, in many cases were their own worst enemy, adding a lot of pressure from within in addition to contextual and external stressors.

In light of the second identified theme, coping with stressors, the scoping review identified some important general coping variables such as motivational quality, creativity, and emotional intelligence, which seemed important either for the development or the promotion of coping strategies and coping processes when faced with a range of different stressors. Key findings were that adaptive coping is linked with agency, autonomy, meaning and purpose, as well as social support, care, and student-centered teaching and learning. On the other side, maladaptive coping is related to external control, performance-orientation, contingent self-worth, stress, pressure, anxiety, and risk behavior such as perfectionism, obsessiveness, and overtraining.

A key conclusion is that the evidence-based need for a paradigmatic shift into a more student-centered teaching and learning in dance are overdue. Performance culture and teaching paradigms are controllable and changeable, and hence, teacher education in dance is a key, which should be evidence-based. Also, a key could be to do more research-based pilot projects and practice-based interventions from ‘within’ to aid the implementation process and to systematically learn from best practice.