- A psycho-educational model to facilitate the self-development and mental health of the pre-professional classical dancer as individual and as performer.
- Van Staden, Antoinette
- Dancers' mental health, Dance history, Self-culture
- D.Ed., The performing arts community represents a highly trained community, closely knit and stable with shared values and purposes. This is a community which is strongly influenced by its culture and leaders. The past twenty-five years have brought tremendous change to the dance world. This includes the development of techniques and sophisticated technologies into a creative process. Yet, there has not been parallel growth and development in the working conditions and development of dancers. Dancers, in this study classical dancers face continuous challenges in their environment, their identity formation and their transitions out of the performing career. There is substantial evidence that classical dancers have difficulty with their personal lives and their lives as performers. Specifically, a consistent emphasis on a performance-oriented climate seems to be linked to the development of potentially maladaptive dispositions such as neurotic perfectionism, ego-orientation, physical, mental and social ignorance as well as trait anxiety. The percieved climate within the classical dance context, characterised by the setting of excessively high standards, the emphasis on superior ability, the fear of failure and the inability to accept personal mistakes threatens the self-concept and self-esteem of the dancer. The context and culture of the ballet environment has a direct influence on the identity formation and role-identity of the dancers and influence their transition out of the performing career and dance world. Little research has been done on supporting dancers and on assisting them to support themselves in their pre-professional years, to prepare them for the profession and to support any transitions they face. The question can be asked: What can be done to assist pre-professional dancers in promoting their mental health and actualisation as individuals and performers? A theory generative, qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual research design was used to conduct this study. The fieldwork was done by having semi-structured interviews with professional principle dancers of two classical dance companies. The results obtained were analysed and categorised. The findings from all data were contextualised and a literature control was carried out. In this way findings were validated. The results obtained from the analysed data reflect the fact that professional classical dancers’ role as dancers dominates their identity. As a result the environment, perceived climate and culture stimulate external goals, dependency on others, destructive behaviour and mental imbalances. The dances suffer physically, emotionally, mentally and relationally. They experience public success and personal failure. For dancers their chosen world seems to be their reality. All the dancers that participated in this research were not aware of their threatened identities. Although they experienced discomfort they seemed to be very dependent on this world and reality. Pre-professional and professional classical dancers are in need of exercising self-development in promoting their mental health. The main concepts of facilitation of self-development can be defined as creating a safe space or trusting environment to assist, intervene, empower and motivate to bring about self-awareness and self-responsibility in order to exercise self- direction. A model was developed as framework of reference to facilitate self-development. The interrelated divisions were identified for the model of facilitation of self-development, namely, initation, cultivation and implementation. Pre-professional dancers are facilitated in the process of forming a more holistic perspective on their identities through self-awareness. They must accept that reality and re-organise themselves in order to accept responsibility. They must also exercise self-direction in order to grow towards mental health and self-actualisation. Pre-professional dancers can exercise self-direction and their unique potential through self-awareness and by becoming self-responsible. This thesis proposes a model of facilitating self-development on which guidelines can be operationalised. This will assist pre-professional dancers to exercise self-development in order to continue in the lifelong process of growing towards wholeness within their profession and post-profession.
- Prof. C.P.H. Myburgh
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