for Arts
& Culture
Dance | National scheme

AESOP (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose)Dance to Health

Aesop is a charity whose vision is ‘A future when arts solutions for society’s problems are valued and available for all who need them’. It runs Dance to Health and the Aesop Institute.

Dance to Health is a nationwide pioneering falls prevention dance programme for older people, combining evidence-based physiotherapy with the joy, creativity and energy of dance. It aims to be the first arts solution which goes to scale in another sector.

Dance to Health dance artists complete the same training as NHS physiotherapists in how to build strength and balance as we age. They then receive further training to help them incorporate these into dance.

The Aesop Institute supports organisations and entrepreneurs using arts programmes with an explicit social purpose to grow their artistic impact, social impact and earned income.

It shows health, care and other sectors how the arts can work for them through biennial national showcases and an online platform of high-quality arts and health programmes.

It provides research, tools, training and consultancy including a DCMS-funded collaboration with the London School of Economics on the cost-effectiveness of arts and health programmes; the first arts and health evaluation framework (commissioned by Public Health England); annual surveys of GP attitudes to the arts; and the Active Ingredients programme which aims to deepen their understanding of how arts interventions in health and social contexts actually work – and to improve programme design and impact measurement.

AESOP (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose)

AESOP (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose)

Target Beneficiaries

Dance to Health’s target beneficiaries are older people nationwide.

The programme uses dance to help people improve or maintain their strength and balance. This is important to ensure they continue to get the most out of life whilst also reducing pressure on our health system.

The NHS suggests five steps to mental wellbeing: Connect with other people – Be physically active – Learn new skills – Give to others – Pay attention to the present moment. Dancing as part of a group can achieve all of them.

1 in 3 people aged over 65 fall each year. In 2017 and 2018, over 220,000 emergency hospital admissions were related to falls among patients aged 65 and over. Around 1 in 10 older people who fall become afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again. It costs the health service  £4,174 when someone has a serious fall. The total annual UK cost of fragility fractures is estimated at £4.4 billion.

The current solution is Postural Stability Instructor (PSI) training using FaME and Otago. This has low engagement rates as 81% of people referred to falls prevention programmes attend for 12 weeks or less but it takes 26 weeks to see improvements that will lead to fall prevention. Without maintenance, any improvements gained are lost after a year.

Dance to Health aims to offer a cost-effective means to address older people’s falls.


Dance to Health aims to be a commercial social enterprise by 2025. It currently offers:

  • a six week Zoom course for individuals. Cost: £48 per person for the course.
  • a 26 week programme for a group, or for a care home -online or in person. Cost: £4,680 for up to 36 participants. + expenses.
  • a maintenance programme for groups. Cost: £180 per session for up to 36 participants. Minimum order of 16 sessions.
  • training to create your own local group. 

The Aesop Institute 2021-24 development plan consists of:

  • Expanded package of services to help arts interventions for a social purpose grow their social impact and earned income.
  • A coalition of organisations and individuals committed to realising the arts’ potential to contribute solutions to society’s major problems.
  • Work with the coalition to campaign for repositioning the arts as a powerful contributor to solving society’s major problems.
  • R&D of new ‘Aesops’ in the criminal justice and the education sectors.



Sheffield Hallam University evaluated Dance to Health and concluded that the programme:

  • Offers the health system an effective and cost-effective means to address the issue of older people’s falls
  • is true to existing physiotherapy programmes







The project continues to expand nationwide, and constantly offers training for new groups.


Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Birmingham City Council, Dulverton Trust, Oak Foundation, Swansea Bay Health Charity