One study (Pickard, 2012) claimed that if a dancer is in the game of ballet, then mastery of the game depends on their social and cultural capital and in turn their position in the internal hierarchy. Playing the game means accepting that power struggles within the peer group exist in the form of rivalry, envy, and competitiveness and in the potentially obstructing effect of a ‘pecking order’ within the ballet class (Pickard, 2012).
This was also echoed in a more recent study of Norwegian ballet students (Haraldsen et al., 2010, 2021), which identified that being among the best was the most important currency to possess as a ballet dancer student. It could be exchanged with social status among peers (i.e., respect, friends, status; Haraldsen et al., 2020, 2021).
Haraldsen, H. M., Abrahamsen, F. E., Solstad, B. E., & Halvari, H. (2021). Narrative Tensions in Strained Junior Elite Performers’ Experiences of Becoming Elite Performers. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 1767.
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.
Pickard, A. (2012). Schooling the dancer: The evolution of an identity as a ballet dancer. Research in Dance Education, 13(1), 25-46.