Older adults' perceptions of participating in community dance and the ways in which it supports physical literacy and embodiment: A case study


Dancing is a physical activity with potential to enhance older adult's holistic health, connection to their body, and aging process. As Canada's population ages, there is a need to understand the ways in which dancing may be supportive for older adults. Physical literacy takes a life course perspective to understanding physical, cognitive, and affective experiences in physical activity. Essential to physical literacy is embodiment, which acknowledges mind and body as intertwined. The purpose of this case study was to understand older adults' perspectives on how their weekly community dance classes contributed to physical literacy and experiences of embodiment from a constructivist perspective. Five older adults completed semi-structured interviews. Six themes were generated using reflexive thematic analysis: (1) Laughter, lightness, and youthfulness highlighted participants' enjoyment of dance, and the way dancing led to feeling positive emotions; (2) The body comes back to life emphasized how dancing supports participants in enhancing or maintaining capabilities; (3) Confidence can shine was related to the challenge of the class matching participants' abilities; (4) Carried away by the music discussed music as essential to participants' experience; (5) Belonging to a community addressed the inclusive environment, and the opportunity to be social and meet others; (6) Contributing to the neighbourhood spirit highlighted how dance class offers opportunities for gathering and connection amongst neighbours. Findings from this study provide insight into how dancing may enhance confidence and provide opportunities to appreciate one's own body and capabilities among a group of older adults.

Acknowledgments: SSHRC, University Heights Community Association Dance and Movement Program