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A Psycho-Educational Model to Enhance the Self-Development and Mental Health of Classical Dancers

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There is substantial evidence that some classical dancers have difficulty with their personal lives and with their lives as performers. Specifically, a consistent emphasis on performance-orientation has been linked to the development of potentially maladaptive dispositions. A pilot study was conducted to explore the life-world of the classical professional dancer through semi-structured interviews with nine dancers from two professional ballet companies in South Africa. The results indicated that the profession had strongly influenced their sense of self, relationships with others, and future-orientation. The findings of the pilot study are important for what they suggest about the tendency of classical dance to stimulate the setting of externalized goals that may lead to self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, depression, maladaptive perfectionism, and problems with career transitions. These findings were used to develop a model that aims at preparing pre-professional dancers to deal with such problems by promoting their sense of empowerment, self-development, and self-actualization as individuals and as artistic performers. What remains is for the model to be tested in practice, procedures and protocols established for training the personnel who will actualize it, and appropriate criteria identified for the assessment of self-development. Then the model can be disseminated for general use.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa; PO Box 2546, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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