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From Studio to Seminar: Dancing My Way into Research

Hello, I'm Niamh Callaghan, and I'm thrilled to introduce myself as a new Masters by Research student and a proud member of the SPRINT team. While I may be new as a researcher in academia, my interests in dance and fitness have been deeply rooted since my early years.

I began dance at the age of two and I have never stopped. Contemporary is my heart; ballet is my head. My childhood revolved around the gym due to my mother’s career, so health and fitness was already in the cards, and I am forever grateful. At the age of eighteen I was a personal trainer and by nineteen a physical education coach and yoga instructor. My knowledge of rhythm and movement made workouts more engaging as I incorporated dance elements into fitness routines.

One of the most rewarding aspects was witnessing the incredible transformations in clients. As a personal trainer, I had the privilege of guiding people on their fitness journeys, observing not only physical changes but also boosts in their confidence and overall well-being. It's a privilege to help people discover the strength they possess. The change I had noticed in people’s mental health from movement and dance had always intrigued me, and this is what led me to go to university and dig deeper into understanding the connections between movement and the human mind.

I was given the opportunity to study dance in San Francisco for a year, this was an exploration of artistic growth and cultural exploration. Immersing myself in the city's diverse

dance community, I connected with talented artists and embraced various dance forms. This experience profoundly expanded my dance knowledge and left an enduring impact on my artistic path.

My dissertation revolved around understanding what makes a safe dance environment. I delved into the concept of autonomy and self-esteem, exploring their significance in fostering a secure space for dancers.

My current Masters research is a finer look into autonomy and self-esteem within the realm of dance education. Fueled by my love for dance and a deep curiosity about the human mind, the research aims to understand the feasibility of creative dance tasks to empower dancers through promoting opportunity for greater control over their creative expressions. The project is underpinned by self-determination theory and Laban's Movement Framework. This research aims to bridge gaps in the field, providing valuable insights into enhancing dancers' self-esteem.

Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey through dance, research, and self-discovery. It serves as a reminder that our passions can lead us to unexpected places. My story remains an ever-evolving, awe-inspiring dance, and I'm excited to see where it takes me next.

I look forward to keeping you up to date on this research in future blogs, see you soon!


Photo credit: Niamh Callaghan

Written by Niamh Callaghan, Masters by Research Student in the SPRINT Project.

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