Title

Dancing through it: Enhancing psychological recovery in dance

Author Identifiers

Peta A. L. Blevins
ORCID: 0000-0002-5320-1784

Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Luke Hopper

Second Advisor

Professor Gene Moyle

Third Advisor

Dr Shona Erskine

Field of Research Code

190403, 170114, 130213

Abstract

Achieving elite level performance in dance requires intensive training and physical demands that may put dancers at risk of underrecovery and overtraining if not balanced with adequate recovery. Dancers have been shown to be susceptible to overtraining and burnout (Koutedakis, 2000), however, little is known about how dancers balance training and non-training stress with recovery to counteract negative training outcomes. This thesis investigated psychological recovery among vocational dance students, using a mixed-method study design to examine dancer experiences of stress and recovery, and the effectiveness of a mindfulness intervention in enhancing psychological recovery in vocational dance training. Study 1 explored the experiences of professional dancers reflecting on their vocational dance training in relation to stress and recovery behaviours. Study 2 examined the attitudes of current vocational dance students and their teachers regarding stress and recovery in vocational dance training. Study 3 investigated the relationship between mindfulness, stress, recovery, and affect among vocational dance students. Study 4 examined the effectiveness of a mindfulness training program on enhancing mindfulness, recovery, and positive affect, and decreasing stress and negative affect.

Taken as a whole, the findings of this thesis indicate that there are multiple sources of stress faced by vocational dance students; however, their ability to identify personal recovery needs and act upon these needs is central to performance enhancement. Theory and models from sport science research provided an adequate starting point from which to explore these factors in dance, however, more dance specific models and theoretically driven research is recommended. Mindfulness provides a useful tool for dancers to reduce stress experienced and manage emotional demands of dance training. Further research is needed to establish dose-response for mindfulness training and delivery to produce positive effects on performance and dancer well-being. Dance organisations could play an important role in enhancing recovery and well-being for vocational dance students by supporting student engagement in recovery strategies throughout training programs. The findings also demonstrated the importance of understanding dance culture, and the role that organisations and individuals play in developing and reinforcing cultural ideologies in dance. Understanding the sociocultural factors that influence dancers’ approaches to training and health-related behaviours may further assist in promoting adaptive responses to recovery-stress states and result in greater dancer well-being.

Access Note

This thesis is under embargo until June 5, 2021

Access to this thesis is restricted. Please see the Access Note below for access details.

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