The students seem to take on a passive role and are usually expected to follow or obey the teacher without questioning methods or practices (Dragon, 2015; Green, 1999). In another study comparing students within a progressive way of teaching with students within more traditional classes, findings revealed that the students in creative dance class made significant improvements in creative and critical thinking, but those in the more traditional dance class did not make significant gains in these two areas (Minton & McGill, 1998).
Discipline and control
The traditionalism way of teaching and learning are also closely connected to control and discipline. Student responses in this way of teaching and learning resonated with reference to a body ideal that disconnects from a sense of an inner authority and echoes Foucault’s notion of discipline and structural control of the body through self and others’ surveillance (Andresen, 2011, Greene, 1999).
Over time, with the teacher’s eye constantly on students, the students learn to discipline themselves through self-regulation and unconscious habit (Haraldsen, 2020, 2021; Green, 1999).
This is also echoed in a Norwegian study of perceptions of discipline in upper secondary dance education (Dolva, 2012), which concluded that discipline is understood in relation to self-discipline and the ability to achieve performance goals. Self-discipline is an important goal in all dance genres (i.e., ballet, jazz, and contemporary), however discipline is most visible in the ballet classes (Dolva, 2012).
Self-discipline reflects internalization, which is the process where the students take over the values and attitudes of the dance subculture and make them as one’s own so that socially acceptable behavior does not have to be motivated by expectation of external consequences but instead by intrinsic or internal factors (Dolva, 2012).
The same tendencies were evident in a recent Norwegian study of students attending a bachelor program in classical ballet, where findings showed high levels of introjected motivation (i.e., driven by an internalized pressuring voice of guilt, shame, or obligation) nurtured by a controlling and performance-oriented teaching style; Haraldsen et al., 2019, 2020, 2021).
Finally, also in a Norwegian study of MDD students, some of the same tendencies were found (Andresen, 2011). The students clearly expressed how they were confused about both being their bodies and at the same time trying to objectify, control, and distance themselves from their bodies.
The study shed light on how the students strived to live up to an ideal of normality, or perhaps perfection, and how they were being self-punished through feelings of shame for not living up to the expected ideal or failed in self-control and self-discipline (Andresen, 2011).
The study concluded there was evidence of dancers that were controlled and shaped both regarding their physical bodies and their sense of identity through the discipline and foundations of dance education, with reference to Foucault’s’ theoretical framework (Andresen, 2011).
Andresen, J. V. E. (2011). Embodied knowledge in high-school dance students; communicating the bodily experience (Master’s thesis, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, Det humanistiske fakultet, Institutt for musikk).
Dolva, A. (2012). Dans og disiplin-en undersøkelse om hva danselærere tenker om fenomenet disiplin (Master’s thesis, NTNU).
Dragon, D. A. (2015). Creating cultures of teaching and learning: Conveying dance and somatic education pedagogy. Journal of Dance Education, 15(1), 25-32.
Green, J. 1999. Somatic authority and the myth of the ideal body in dance education. Dance Research Journal, 31(2): 80–100.
Haraldsen, H. M., Halvari, H., Solstad, B. E., Abrahamsen, F. E., & Nordin-Bates, S. M. (2019). The role of perfectionism and controlling conditions in Norwegian elite junior performers’ motivational processes. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1366.
Haraldsen, H. M., Nordin-Bates, S. M., Abrahamsen, F. E., & Halvari, H. (2020). Thriving, Striving, or Just Surviving? TD Learning Conditions, Motivational Processes and Well-Being Among Norwegian Elite Performers in Music, Ballet, and Sport. Roeper Review, 42(2), 109-125.
Haraldsen, H. M., Solstad, B. E., Ivarsson, A., Halvari, H., & Abrahamsen, F. E. (2020). Change in basic need frustration in relation to perfectionism, anxiety, and performance in elite junior performers. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 30(4), 754-765.
Minton, S., & McGill, K. (1998). A study of the relationships between teacher behaviors and student performance on a spatial kinesthetic awareness test. Dance Research Journal, 30(2), 39-52.