What is dance and what is the experience of dancing? What does dancing mean for those who do it?
Dance scholars and critics have written many words in response to these questions. Choreographers give their answers to “what is dance?” in the work they create and, often, in commentary about it. Professional dancers have also spoken, primarily in biographies and autobiographies, of what dance and dancing mean to them. Not all voices are heard in dance literature, however. In particular, the voices of children and adolescents, especial ly those not enrol led in professional schools, are silent. What is the dance experience like, and what does it mean, for them? What do their experiences—and the meanings they make of them—say to us, who work with young people in dance?
These were the questions that propelled three researchers into this study focusing on a group of 16–18 year old young women. In particular we were interested in finding out what young women dancers thought of their place within dance and dancing. This research focused initially on young adolescents and, as such, represents only a beginning of what we view as an important area of investigation.