Scottish Ballet

Case study

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

SB Health is Scottish Ballet’s health initiative. Over the last five years, we have been dancing with families who live with neurological conditions and with young people who have faced adversity in childhood. With the help of these communities and our partners, we have developed six pioneering dance health programmes, underpinned by the following values:

Beyond the stage, beyond the diagnoses

We are experts in dance and movement. Every day we work with elite dancers to create outstanding ballet performances for audience across Scotland, the UK and internationally. We respect the dancer in all our Health participants, and just like our professional dancers we encourage physical and mental resilience. Every SB Health activity is inspired by the repertoire and the artistic vision of Scottish Ballet and we approach individuals’ creativity with ambition.

Health and wellbeing across the life course

SB Health provides entry points to dance heath throughout the lifecycle. From young people’s wellbeing, to people living with neuro-degenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s, dementia and multiple sclerosis. We care for carers too, offering development opportunities for health professionals and support for unpaid carers.


Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic  (images from the Scottish Ballet film Frontiers)

The individual’s lived experience

Our pioneering programmes place the individual and their unique lived experience at the heart of its collaborative design, tackling pressing societal challenges in health and community wellbeing. We encourage our participants to be ambitious for themselves and for their community. We involve families and focus groups in our programme designs, evaluation designs and use ongoing feedback to refine our programme models. For this reason, every iteration of our programmes is unique to the community dancing with us.

Mental Health and Young People

The Close provides a first-time ballet experience for young adults and is delivered in partnership with The Kibble Care and Education Centre and more recently Dudhope Young Peoples Inpatient Unit. This creative education project provides at-risk young people with a new and enriching cultural experience. Our participants are in special unit schools because they have faced adversity during childhood. Through artistic projects inspired by contemporary themes based on Scottish Ballet’s productions, individuals are supported to explore their creativity and develop teamwork skills.

‘I felt free in the environment to explore my creativity’

The Close participant, March 2019

The Close aims to empower participants by welcoming their creative ideas and building their confidence, communication, self-expression and creative skills, as well as providing a cultural and social education, and enriching new experiences.

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic – images from the Scottish Ballet film Frontiers

The Close and Young Women

In spring 2021 we began to work in partnership with Dudhope Young Peoples Inpatient Unit and a small group of young women there on a short programme of creative sessions inspired by Scottish Ballet’s film The Bird. The young women were already participating in yoga and mindfulness sessions with their specialist physiotherapist. SB dance artists offered Dudhope staff an introductory movement session and received feedback, before offering an introductory session for the young women as part of the development process.

As part of The Bird programme dance artists offered the young women a trauma informed warm-up, using movement and breath to focus awareness on the presence and physicality of the body in space. Working responsively with the young women, the dance artists supported their creative journey as they learned repertoire inspired by The Bird, basic ballet technique and stage directions, and explored themes of expansiveness and flight. In just 4 weeks the culmination was a short dance sequence, developed and performed by all participants and Dudhope staff.

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Intercultural Youth Scotland

Intercultural Youth Scotland girls’ group is a space for young Black women and women of colour to meet together, take part in activities and focus on their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Scottish Ballet has delivered four 2-hour long Zoom sessions with the group, working with Scottish Ballet film Frontiers as inspiration. During the workshops, the group has participated in warm up/dance classes, learned a section of dance from the film and worked creatively to make their own choreography inspired by the themes of the work. The young people have also had a workshop with Scottish Ballet dancer Xolisweh Ana Richards, learning a phrase of movement choreographed in response to the film and learning about life as a Scottish Ballet dancer. The sessions will continue in-person during the Autumn, working towards a short piece of choreography created in collaboration with Scottish Ballet artists and the young people.

If you would like to make a donation of any size to The Close programme please follow the link below and click on the Donate button at the bottom of the page. We are so grateful for any contributions.