The formation of interpersonal relationships in dance practice: A mixed-method study of two programmes

Susanne Ravn & Karsten Elmose-Østerlund
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics
University of Southern Denmark

Previous studies have described how dance practices encourage the development of interpersonal relationships. However, the possible connections between the development of such relationships and the cooperative characteristics of the dance practices have rarely been focused on. This article sets out to investigate: a) the extent to which cooperative dance practices organised around a performance foster interpersonal relationships among the participants compared with the fostering of interpersonal relationships in different sports activities, and b) which cooperative aspects of such dance practices are of importance for the fostering of interpersonal relationships. We used a mixed-method approach, combining surveys, observations and interviews, to investigate two Danish dance programmes. The descriptive comparison with members of sports clubs presents strong indications that interpersonal relationships arose within a comparatively short time period. Unexpectedly, the activities in the two dance programmes were to a very large extent based on teacher-oriented methods. However, using cooperative learning theory, we could point towards several constitutive elements of cooperative learning that are of importance in facilitating interpersonal relationships. With minor differences between the two programmes, the professional dancers’ way of forming part of and facilitating the process of creating a performance seemed to play a crucial role for ‘individual accountability’ and ‘promotive interaction’ between participants.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 10, 2019

SUSANNE RAVN is an Associate professor and Head of ‘Movement, Culture and Society’, a research unit at the University of Southern Denmark. In her research, she focuses on phenomenological approaches to skilled movement in dance practice. She is the author of several books in Danish and English and has published her research in journals focusing on phenomenology, qualitative research methods in sport, exercise and health, dance research and sociological analysis of embodied experiences.

KARSTEN ELMOSE-ØSTERLUND is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark. He conducts research into sports clubs, sports organisations, civil society, volunteer work and related subjects. With a master’s degree in sports science and political science, he has written a PhD on the social benefits generated by sports clubs. Recently, he was the project leader for ‘Social Inclusion and Volunteering in Sports Clubs in Europe’, a European research project conducted in 2015-2017.


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