Dance, Health & Community

A leading Dance and Health Program for children and young people DAZL significantly exceeds all targets we are set, and are uniquely placed to deliver outputs, In 2016/17 has engaged with 4402 young people of which 2903 inactive young people doing less than 2 hour of structured physical activity per week. We delivered 1990 dance sessions within 40 school and 38 community dance groups, 2476 hours of dance activity across the city of Leeds.  We participated in 99 dance events and attracted audience of over 38377 people which include audience figures which are a combination of live performances hosted by DAZL and those with partner organisations

Leeds & Childhood Obesity

With a population of 750,000 Leeds is the second largest authority in the country with 1 in 5 residents who live in poverty. The reality is that children born today in Leeds’ most disadvantaged neighbourhoods can expect to die almost twelve years earlier than those in areas of Leeds which enjoy the best health. (Leeds City Council, 2008) Approximately 1 in 4 of Leeds children are overweight and 1 in 8 children are obese. Given there are approximately 180,000 0-19 year olds in Leeds we can estimate that approximately 45,000 children are overweight and of these 22,500 are obese (Rudolf et al 2005-10, Leeds Childhood Obesity Prevention and Weight)

Key Approaches

key-aproachesManagement Strategy 2006 – 2016) DAZL specializes in delivering tailored dance and health provision to help with prevention and tackling issues around obesity.

DAZL works within youth culture, starting with what young people enjoy which has manifested into dance styles like Street Dance, Hip-Hop, Cheerdance and Break dance.

Targeting children and young people who lack access to positive activities, or who are at risk of sedentary lifestyles through principles of community development, DAZL has created many youth dance groups, after school programmes and intensive projects.

Local need is at the heart of DAZL’s work and is how the organisation came to be. DAZL’s programmes attract large numbers of children and young people (over 20,000 since the project began) of all shapes and sizes.  A key aspect of this development work lies in a commitment to training local people/ newly graduated artists to deliver dance programmes in their own communities and across the city, enabling and encouraging ownership and entrepreneurship.

Parental involvement is a crucial feature of DAZL’s work e.g., through celebration events such as dance showcases which are truly a family affair with tickets selling out very quickly. Parents are actively involved in running events and helping to raise funds e.g., participating in sponsored walks and bag packing events, as well as staffing DAZL’s showcase events.

With an emphasis on long term, mass participation with multiple entry and exit points DAZL offers dance activity that fits into young people’s lives, culturally, geographically and structurally.  DAZL works in partnership with NHS Leeds / Leeds City Council Public Health to contribute to the development of a robust evidence base to demonstrate the health benefits of childhood obesity, community dance, health and well-being.

Summary of Key Features

  • Meeting young people where they are at; culturally, geographically & structurally
  • Portfolio of interventions with multiple entry/exit points for long term, mass participation
  • Community development – starting where people are at, and building on what they have
  • Building confidence and social skills
  • Goal setting & family involvement
  • Contributing to national evidence base
  • Locally and nationally relevant

Benefits of Community Dance 

Health-PageEngagement in DAZL’s dance activity improves mental health, physical health and well being for young people in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Leeds.

DAZL’s work doesn’t focus solely on obesity but on wider health issues, offering fun and positive dance experiences which engage some young people, particularly young girls who otherwise opt out of physical activity.  Dance builds physical fitness and improves coordination, strength and flexibility. Team work skills are developed through dance exercises, creative games and thematic work.  Skills such as cooperation, trust and sensitivity to others are further developed through unison dance, lifting and partner work.  Young people build transferable skills such as confidence, a sense of self-worth and positive body image.  For the young people DAZL targets this activity can be a first step towards a healthier lifestyle.

DAZL Showcases

Showcases are a key part of DAZL’s strategy as they provide a goal to work towards and bring communities together to celebrate the success of their children. Showcases are held at least twice per year, usually at in the Spring and at Christmas time and involve up to 400 performers per show. These community shows are at theatres, Town Halls and other local venues across the city, our last largest show at Leeds Town Hall was fully booked with 1200 audience members. In addition to this there are regular performance opportunities throughout the year in local galas and festivals, and other community venues as appropriate.

“Both my husband and I enjoyed the show you put on before Christmas and we were overwhelmed at how hard all the children, teachers and organisers worked.  We wish your organisation the very best for the future” Kind regards Victoria Westwood (Parent Gildersome Primary)

Change for Life & Healthy Living Galas

Healthy Living Galas are run in partnership with NHS Leeds, Leeds City Council, Active Club Experience (ACE), Leeds United Football Club, and The Works Skatepark. They are a chance for families to access information and Change 4 Life resources as well as a way to find out about physical activity classes in the city. There are fun interactive activities and dance performances by DAZL groups and a healthy lunch for everyone, these events all have high numbers of families attending and engaging in health lifestyle activities.

Please see previous projects for examples of our work by clicking here 



We are working with Leeds City Council Public Health Department and the Leeds Beckett University on various research projects to contribute to the national evidence base concerning community dance and health. You can find out more information on the Dance and Health research page by clicking here.

DAZL Featured as model of excellence in engaging with public health

On min guide to Dance and Health, Featuring DAZL as an example of excellence in engaging and improving health through dance as a regular commissioned public health programme please click One-minute guide to health  also on Public Health England website dance for health and well-being:  guidelines for commissioners, document featuring DAZL as model of excellence

image-2016-02-08AE-SOP Marketplace Website 

Please checkout this link to the Aesop Marketplace which has been setup to be like an online dating site. It matches health decision-makers with relevant arts in health programmes in an attractive and time-efficient way to enable the work/ conversations to happen. The 24 programmes selected can be filtered by NHS region and four health topics including DAZL, this is the website 



  • Competitive Dance Competitive Dance DAZL Diamonds & DAZL Goldstars are the official championship winning Cheerdance / Hip-Hop Teams of DAZL.
  • Community Dance Groups Community Dance Groups Throughout the year a large number of participants have engaged with DAZL’s other activity as a direct result of being involved various programmes.
  • Disability Dance Disability Dance The DAZL VINE Cheerdance Project starting in January 2011, the aim of this programme is to deliver Cheerdance to young people between 14 and 24 years.
  • DAZL Boys DAZL Boys We offer many opportunities for boys of all ages from 3 year old upwards, in all types of styles to suit the physical aspects of dance that interest boys.
  • Schools Schools DAZL’s Active 4 Life programme aims to increase involvement of inactive children by offering a range of fun activities delivered with an inclusive ethos.

Try a DAZL dance session

Classes across Leeds for anyone aged 3 -25 years. We're here to make sure you have fun even if you've never danced before. DAZL can introduce you to all kinds of dance; Street / Cheerdance / Hip-Hop/ Breakdance/ Creative /Jazz and Contemporary and more.... Express yourself, you'll have a great time make new friends, not to mention keeping fit whilst filling you with confidence!