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Open Access The Relationship Between Imagery and Competitive Anxiety in Ballet Auditions

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Aligned with competitive anxiety research in athletics, this study explored audition anxiety and the role of imagery in the anxiety-performance relationship among 131 female auditioning ballet dancers. A better understanding of how auditioning dancers experience anxiety and associated image content can help train dancers preparing for anxiety-provoking, high-stakes performances. The CSAI-2 assessing competitive state anxiety and confidence and the SIQ assessing the cognitive and motivational functions of imagery were slightly modified for administration in the audition context. The MIQ-R was used to assess movement imagery. All instrument subscales, with the exception of the CG-Strategies subscale of the SIQ, demonstrated adequate internal consistency. Ballet dancers' scores were similar to those reported by aesthetic sport athletes. Obtaining a position with a dance company was used as a proxy for defining success. Successful dancers with prior audition success were more confident than those without prior success and unsuccessful dancers with, and without, prior success. As a group, successful dancers experienced less cognitive anxiety and more somatic anxiety than unsuccessful dancers. Although imagery ability and image content did not differentiate dancers by performance, confident dancers had higher kinesthetic imagery ability and used more mastery and less arousal imagery than less confident dancers. In contrast, cognitively and somatically anxious dancers used less mastery and more arousal imagery. The athletic paradigm appears to be an appropriate framework for studying performance-related anxiety among dancers. Dancers and practitioners are encouraged to focus on mastery images for increasing confidence and decreasing anxiety. Dancers with prior audition success may be incorporating theses experiences in generating arousal imagery shown to predicted somatic anxiety, anxiety that does not appear to be detrimental to performance when cognitive anxiety is controlled.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant professor in the Department of Physical Education, 218 Blatt PE Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208 2: Associate professor in the Department of Theatre, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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