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How to persevere in a ballet performance career: exploring personal wisdom of retired professional ballet dancers
Research in Dance Education  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-10-29, DOI: 10.1080/14647893.2020.1837765
Heejin Kim, Susan Louise Tasker, Yan Shen


Despite the well-documented challenges of professional ballet dancers and anecdotal report of premature retirement, no research has examined what professional ballet dancers do to persevere in their performance careers. This study drew on the perspectives of retired professional ballet dancers to address this question. We conducted narrative interviews with nine retired professional ballet dancers and identified four themes using thematic analysis. Findings show that to persevere in a performance career, dancers need to: (1) Look After Mental Health and Self-Worth; (2) Be Proactive in Navigating Career; (3) Grow as an Artist; and (4) Live as a Whole Person. We suggest these thematic findings illustrate attitudes and behaviours of career adaptability and draw attention to the needs for mental health support and mental skills training, and mentorship and career advice, for helping aspiring and professional ballet dancers persevere in a performance career. Findings have implications and applications for ballet dancers, research, ballet management, dance educators, and dance counsellors.