Jamie Hawke MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “Dance Educator Perceptions of Skill and Development in Pre-Professional Adolescent Ballet Dancers”

Supervisor: Dr. Shannon Bredin, Associate Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Education
Committee Members: Dr. Nicola Hodges, Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Education;
Dr. Sandra Mathison, Professor, Education and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, Faculty of Education
Chair: Dr. Patricia Vertinsky, Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Education

Abstract: The path to becoming a professional dancer requires many years of dedicated training, typically in specialized dance programs. With the considerable amount of time, effort, and money required to develop skill in dance, factors that affect dance talent development have gained increasing interest in the dance medicine and science field. Research suggests that the developmental trajectory towards a professional career in dance is influenced by a number of individual and interpersonal factors. Dance educators are responsible for the day-to-day development of pre-professional ballet dancers and play an important role in influencing talent development. Dance educators’ perceptions of skill have important implications in the talent development process, but little systematic research has been conducted to explore the ways in which dance educators perceive and develop skill in pre-professional ballet dancers. Using phenomenography as a methodology to frame the study, the main research question is, “How do dance educators experience and conceptualize the development of skill across adolescence”? Interviews will be conducted with dance educators (n = 20) teaching in pre-professional ballet programs at schools associated with professional ballet companies. The aim of this study is to explore the ways in which dance educators conceptualize skill across the phases of training and conceptualize or experience skill development across adolescence. The outcome of this study will also provide insight into the factors that dance educators perceive to be most influential in the development of talent in young ballet dancers. Insight into these perspectives will provide direction for further discussion into the long-term development and health and well-being of dancers.