Skip to content Go to search

This post contains the following categories:

Competencies & knowledge production in dance

Only three studies have explicitly examined perceptions of competencies and knowledge production in dance. However, they approach the topic from different angles.


Students’ self-perceptions

One study examined how higher education dance students in a first-year jazz and modern dance class constructed their self-perceptions of dance competence. A perceived competence in dance scale was administered to the students.

The findings showed that 57.7% of the students’ competence perceptions were congruent with the teacher’s, whereas 42.3% were incongruent (15.3% higher, 27% lower). Based on interviews, the students versus the teachers displayed distinct characteristics regarding attribution for success, interpretation of feedback, and focus on classroom activities. Rather than the teachers’ feedback, the students’ self-perceptions and attribution patterns in the learning context influenced their self-perceptions of competence (Bibik, 1993).

Ways of knowing

In another study (Risner, 2000) in exploring the construction of knowledge by dancers in the rehearsal process, identified four significant ways of knowing:

  1. knowing as an ‘interpersonal construction’ highlighted the collaborative nature of dance
  2. knowing ‘by doing’ focused on the know-how to dance, something that was embodied and situated. For the dancers it was impossible to know the dance without being able to do it.
  3. knowing ‘as memory’ focused on the body’s ability to know and remember, and to put back together or to re-assemble the body. To remember was to re-organize the body specifically for the dance at hand containing propositional and practical knowledge that re-integrated the mind and the body.
  4. knowing ‘as certainty’ was realizing that to some degree knowing was associated with a confidence derived from being sure of oneself in rehearsal and performance situations. To be unsure, it seemed, was equivalent to not know.

Each of these thematic clusters overlapped one another and represented different layers of knowledge production in dance (Risner, 2000).

A recent doctoral thesis from Norwegian higher education in contemporary dance examined the perception of dance technique and dance material in the students (Rothmund, 2019). Technique may be understood as a specific codified given system (i.e., traditionalism) or more as a generic practical negotiated skill (i.e., progressivism).

The findings revealed that the students, instead of being positioned passively either in one of the poles, negotiated in-between the two paradigms, and experienced that the one did not have to exclude the other.

The negotiation process was experienced as useful in the learning process, since it forced the student into an active situation of agency in their own learning, dealing with the different experiences of being socialized into a given tradition creating an independent personal artistic identity and way of expression (Rothmund, 2019).

Bibik, J. M. (1993). Pedagogical considerations regarding perceptions of dance competence. Journal of teaching in physical education, 12(3), 266-285.

Risner, D. (2000). Making dance, making sense: Epistemology and choreography. Research in dance education, 1(2), 155-172.

Rothmund, I. V. (2019). Å gjøre dansen til sin: Bachelorstudenters levde erfaringer i moderne-og samtidsdans (Doctoral dissertation, Institutionen för kultur och estetik, Stockholms universitet).


View all