Project Details


Youth Dance Matters: an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods project combining dance and social science research in a cross-border investigation of the shared value and capacity of youth dance on the island of Ireland.

Project Team
Co-Leads: Professor Aoife McGrath (QUB) and Dr Victoria Durrer (UCD).
PDRA: Dr Louise McKeever (QUB)
RA: Simon Mills (UCD)

The study draws together scholarship in dance, performance, cultural policy, cultural industries, youth development and youth arts studies and grounds it within post conflict and cross border scholarship. The project extends our work to develop a novel, interdisciplinary methodology of epistemological pluralism that positions affective experience and embodied knowledge in dialogue with knowledge produced by social scientific data. The effort is to facilitate an epistemic shift in these fields that re-orientates research from producing data and knowledge about a cultural form from an outside-observer position, to incorporating knowledge from within the embodied perspective and experience of the artform itself.

Layman's description

Youth Dance Matters is a pioneering survey and analysis of the conditions and value of youth dance across the island of Ireland that mixes dance and social science research methods. It brings together 80 youth dancers and their facilitators from diverse groups (4 in Republic of Ireland, 4 in Northern Ireland) across three dance styles (ballet, contemporary, and street dance). Research takes a youth-centred approach to understanding why, where, and under what circumstances young people participate in dance, and how capacity for greater cooperation on the island might be developed. Groups working in similar dance styles on either side of the border will be paired. Activities begin with dance workshops and discussions with each individual group and interviews with facilitators, alongside broader policy and youth dance group auditing/mapping. Selected paired dancers from each group will independently choreograph and 1lm their own danced responses to the research questions: Where do I dance? Why do I dance? What borders do I meet in my dance? Each pair will then meet with a facilitator online to view and discuss the (un)shared experiences the short dance 1lms reveal.
Findings will address the Shared Island Initiative and youth and arts policy areas of: youth voice in policy research; dance for creative, personal, social and cultural development; island dance ecologies/networks; and youth arts practice as a cultural industry incubator. Outputs will engage multiple audiences in exploring how youth dance operates as a shared endeavour and its potential as a site for collaborative cultural expression and education in post-conflict, post-Brexit, and global pandemic contexts: a project documentary film will be screened at public engagement events; a sector-facing report will offer policy recommendations; academic publications will analyse methods and findings for wider use; and a website will provide an archive of the project during and after its lifetime.
Short titleYouthDance
Effective start/end date25/10/2022 → …

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • Youth Dance
  • Shared Island
  • Post-conflict
  • Mixed-methods
  • Interdisciplinary


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