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Dance Unstuck Overview & Research to Date

Dance Unstuck Project Overview


Dance Unstuck is a legacy project of GDance’s 2013-14 production Stuck in the Mud, produced by Helen Crocker, artistically directed by Marc Brew and delivered in partnership with Ballet Cymru.

Company class during production weeks and the creative process highlighted challenges around access to ballet for the disabled professionals and, more broadly, dancers whose path to professional practice had not followed traditional, ballet-based training routes.

Simultaneously, GDance had taken several enquiries from parents of disabled children struggling to access ballet classes locally.

Dance educator and artist Jürg Koch was first commissioned by GDance Productions in 2015 to explore how he might apply the principles of Universal Design of Instruction (UD) to ballet.

Research Framework

Between 2015 & ’17, we addressed the following research questions:

  1. Can UD principles be applied to the teaching and learning of the codified form of ballet?
  2. What initial/ongoing support do teachers, disabled children and parents need to sustain participation in private dance school classes?
  3. What needs to be in place nationally to embed and roll out the successful elements of the teaching approach and tools?

In 2018, we’re refining the plans and infrastructure required to support ongoing research and development, and through which to address number 3 above.  This includes developing an integrated team of UK-based specialists in the UD approach.

Project Partners & Investors:

As evidenced through 2015 Dance for Change Network led mapping of inclusive dance opportunities for disabled people, access to dance through the arts subsidised sector is geographically ‘patchy’.

The Dance Unstuck partners recognised that progress towards universal and sustained access to dance for disabled children required sharing of resources, networks, expertise and teaching practice cross-sector.

GDance was joined in this research project by organisations bridging the arts and sports subsided sector and the private dance sector; and addressing grassroots access, vocational and teacher training, as well as professional production.

We are grateful for the expertise as well as significant in-kind support provided by our partners.  Thanks also to our primary funder Arts Council England and match-funders of the courses: The Summerfield Charitable Trust, Gloucestershire Disability Fund and the Santander Foundation.

Research to Date


  • Studio research week with professional dancers at Ballet Cymru’s studios in Newport
  • Production of filmed teaching resources


  • 3-day studio exploration of UD with reference to RAD Primary Ballet at Linda Virgoe Dance Studios in Gloucester
  • Sharing of initial findings with local teachers and invited representatives of RAD and ISTD
  • 2-day exploration of the formal, functional, artistic and aesthetic intentions of RAD syllabi exercises with Faculty of Education lecturers 


  • Researcher residency at Linda Virgoe Dance Studios observing and co-teaching exercises in RAD Grade 2-4 classes
  • 2 x studio research weeks (including filming) with a group of 8-12 year old dancers in partnership with Linda Virgoe with reference to RAD Grade 2 Ballet*
  • Training of 2 x Dance Support Workers / teacher mentors
  • Dialogue between Gloucestershire-based disabled dancers, parents and teachers to identify challenges and solutions to enable more disabled children to access local private dance school ballet classes
  • CPD days with teachers and dance artists in Nottingham (led by Dance4), London (in partnership with Candoco Dance Company) and Gloucester
  • 3-day artists’ intensive at the University of Gloucestershire for collaborators and Dance Support Workers to develop and refine their application of the UD-informed teaching approach
  • Completion of the online platform
  • Further exploration of the UD-informed teaching approach with dancers / teachers at Para Dance UK and Ballet Cymru
  • Symposium at the RAD to share findings of the research and to workshop solutions to the ‘sticky issues’ with a range of national dance organisations, inclusive artists, teachers, parents, students and funders

Next steps:

  • We are currently seeking funding to put in place a sustainable infrastructure through which to further test the approach (e.g. on more complex sequences, or different genres)
  • A core team of disabled and non-disabled artists/teachers are developing their skills and understanding in the UD approach with a view to becoming trainers/mentors to other teachers and organisations

Statement from the Royal Academy of Dance

It should be noted that consideration of whether the individualised exercises we worked on and filmed would be acceptable for examination purposes was not addressed within the parameters of this phase of research.

Click here to read a Royal Academy of Dance Statement to accompany the Dance Unstuck project teaching resource filmed material that shows individualised material based on the RAD Grade 2 syllabus exercises: RAD examinations reasonable adjustments statement.