Date of Defense

4-24-2012

Date of Graduation

4-28-2012

Department

Dance

First Advisor

Jane Baas

Second Advisor

Carolyn Pavlik

Third Advisor

David Curwen

Abstract

Purpose: Competitive environments like auditions magnify the importance of optimal performance for dancers and often create considerable pressure for them, increasing the potential for injury. The purpose of this pilot study is to assess the relationship between psychological stressors and audition processes, evaluate the difference between significant psychological stressors of professional versus collegiate dancers and identify correlations between audition-related stressors and injury occurrence during auditions.

Methods: Twenty-three professional dancers and thirty-eight collegiate dancers were recruited from a professional modern company and a Division I university dance department during an audition. Subjects participated using two validated surveys expanded for this project: The Dancer Experiences Survey and The Athletic Coping Skills Inventory. Injury history, stress management, fear, relationships, motivation, health behaviors, and general disposition were assessed prior to the audition experience. Narrative comments were also collected. Data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 20.

Results: More professional dancers (43%) report feeling comfortable with the audition process than collegiate dancers (20%). The professional dancers’ top reported stressors included: level and consistency of motivation, psychological demands of training, support from others and feedback from other dancers. Two stressors were ranked highly by both professional and collegiate dancers: relationship with choreographers and comfort/familiarity with the audition. Of collegiate dancers, 16% reported a current injury while 35% reported concealing a current injury; 21% of professional dancers reported a current injury while 17% reported concealing one. Thirty percent of dancers in each group reported having been injured during auditions and 14% of dancers in each group reported sustaining an injury at the current audition. Self-reported descriptions of the audition ranged from nerve-wracking, intense and tiring to invigorating, motivating and fulfilling.

Conclusions: Data may indicate that dancers are unable to attain peak performance at their auditions due to anxiety or stress. This implies a need for auditions practices that psychologically prepare dancers for peak performance. Aggregate data from additional professional companies will be collected to provide a larger and more reliable database for final analysis and for developing future studies regarding stress and auditioning.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until

4-30-2014

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