Canada Council for the Arts released its detailed study of dance involvement in Canada. This included a survey designed to get a better understanding of who dances, what they dance and why. With 23% of respondents from BC, the west coast showed a keen interest in the ballroom dances. But in most parts of the study, results were quite even across the nation.

Of the 8,124 respondents, 2,176 (27%) were dance professionals and 5,948 (73%) were leisure dance participants. Approximately 190 dance forms are represented in the survey. The two most common forms of dance are contemporary or modern dance (34%), and ballroom or social dance (26%). 80% of survey respondents describe involvement in 2 to 4 forms of dance.

BC leads in Ballroom Dancing

In BC, 34% of respondents showed an interest in Ballroom and Social dancing compared to 26% across the rest of the country. 15% enjoyed Country dance and 29% took part in Contemporary/Modern, compared to a national average of 34%, with 20% involved in European/Folk dances, compared to 21% in other provinces.

Among the professionals who responded, only 16% were involved in the Ballroom dances overall, with 59% teaching Contemporary and Modern, 33% teaching Ballet and 3% teaching Country dances.

BC has slight lead in men who dance

British Columbia had more men (23%) who danced compared to the national average. The average age was slightly higher in BC than other provinces, with fewer people in the 18-34 bracket involved in dancing but higher percentages in the 35+ age groups.

Education generally leads to a greater interest in dancing. Across the country, respondents with a university education were considerably more likely to be dancers (58%) than those with college/trade school (21%) or high school education (14%).

Across the country, respondents with a university education were considerably more likely to be dancers than those with college or high school education

But perhaps surprisingly, income levels don’t equate to a higher interest in dance. Those earning over $80,000 in gross household income were less likely to dance than those earning less, though it should be noted that 27% preferred not to indicate their income level.

How much do we dance?

The average amount of dancing by respondents was 8.8 hours per week. Respondents in BC have been involved in dance an average of 19.7 years, slightly more than the national average of 18.8 years.

Competitive or performing dancers in BC represent a smaller group than the rest of the country, with just 40% of British Columbians who dance doing so as performances compared to 58% in the rest of the nation. This is likely related to the higher costs of traveling to events from BC compared to the relative ease of those in Ontario who may want to travel to other cities to compete or perform.

One of the things that stood out to us is that only 28% of those who Ballroom dance considered themselves as choreographers or creators of dance routines, compared to 69% of those in Ballet, Contemporary or Modern styles of dance. Since ballroom dances are choreographed on the fly, we like to think that a higher percentage of them are in fact creators of dance routines. Obviously they don’t see themselves that way, probably due to the way Ballroom dancers typically turn to a teacher or coach to choreograph their routines.

Why do people dance?

Among the respondents to the survey, 89% said they danced primarily for the enjoyment, with 74% listing exercise or fitness as their motivator and 68% indicating social connection.

Whatever your reason for dancing, keep it up! Dance is good for the body and great for the mind.