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Original Research

Imagining Yourself Dancing to Perfection? Correlates of Perfectionism Among Ballet and Contemporary Dancers



58 – 76

The present study investigated perfectionism prevalence and its relationship to imagery and performance anxiety. Two hundred and fifty (N = 250) elite students (66.4% female; Mage = 19.19, SD = 2.66) studying mainly classical ballet or contemporary dance in England, Canada, and Australia completed questionnaires assessing perfectionism, imagery, and performance anxiety. Cluster analysis revealed three distinct cohorts: dancers with perfectionistic tendencies (40.59% of the sample), dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies (44.35%), and dancers with no perfectionistic tendencies (15.06%). Notably, these labels are data driven and relative; only eight dancers reported high absolute scores. Dancers with perfectionistic tendencies experienced more debilitative imagery, greater cognitive and somatic anxiety, and lower self-confidence than other dancers. Dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies reported midlevel scores for all constructs and experienced somatic anxiety as being more debilitative to performance than did those with no perfectionistic tendencies. Clusters were demographically similar, though more males than females reported no perfectionistic tendencies, and vice versa. In summary, the present findings suggest that "true" perfectionism may be rare in elite dance; however, elements of perfectionism appear common and are associated with maladaptive characteristics.


Authors: Sanna M. Nordin-Bates, Jennifer Cumming, Danielle Aways, Lucinda Sharp

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