Research suggests that the road to becoming an elite performer is situated and complex with many different elements at play (Haraldsen et al., 2021). Talent development in certain dance genres, such as classical ballet, encompass more than merely learning the school’s or company’s particular technique and style (Pickard, 2012).
There are core values engrained in the culture of ballet going hand in hand with the production and construction of a ballet body and traditional gender identities (Pickard, 2012). Young dancer’s body become a capital which needs to be constantly worked and tweaked on during devoted, long hours of practice all while maintaining a single focus on dancing from a young age (Pickard, 2012; Haraldsen, 2021). Therefore, dancer’s identities are perpetually connected to their bodies and constantly at the center of focus. Consequently, if the dancer’s body is rejected so is «the self» of the dancer which leads to a loss of identity or self (Pickard 2012; Haraldsen et al., 2020).
While some performers reported positive experiences including involvement, learning, growth and self-realization, others experienced being around the clock dedicated, eager, self-controlled and disciplined, especially when aiming for a future as an international top performer (Haraldsen et al., 2021, 2019; Pickard, 2012; Chua, 2014; Cairns, 2010).
Rejection and disappointment induced by auditions or setbacks in assessments were seen as an essential part on the road to success which has to be expected and accepted as the «right» way, which means with coolness, stoicism and unshakable self-belief (Pickard, 2012; Haraldsen et al., 2021). Thus, adversity, striving and potential imbalances which even include perfectionism, self-criticism and emotional despair become means to prepare for greatness (Haraldsen et al, 2021).
Apart from Creativity, motivation has been mentioned in several studies to play a pivotal role in the development of talent (Chua, 2014; Walker et al., 2010; Haraldsen, 2020; 2019; Hutchinson et al, 2013). Unsurprisingly, motivational conditions are important for motivational quality (Haraldsen, 2020; 2019; Walker et al., 2010).
In autonomous conditions, teachers and coaches will focus on learning and personal development and relate to the performer’s perspective, encourage exploration, offer relevant choices and provide relevant and constructive feedback (Haraldsen et al., 2020; 2019; Walkert et al., 2010). In the latter environment dancers are more likely to sustain effort, engage in training activities and capitalize on their high abilities and opportunities (Chua, 2014; Haraldsen, 2020; 2019).
However, despite the latter nurturing autonomous motivation, optimal functioning, well- being and being considered supportive of adaptive talent development processes, performers seem to lack autonomous motivation and autonomy (Haraldsen et al., 2020; 2019).
Controlling conditions, on the other hand, entail teachers and coaches pressuring performers and manipulating them in preconceived ideas, feeling and behaviors (Haraldsen, 2020; 2019). Furthermore, the latter has been shown to be positively associated with perfectionistic tendencies, needs frustration, controlled motivation and performance anxiety (Haraldsen, 2019).
Cairns, C. J. 2010. “In Pursuit of Excellence: Uncovering the Knowledge, Philosophies, and Expert Practice of the Classical Ballet Master.” PhD diss., University of Canterbury.
Chua, J. (2014). Dance talent development across the lifespan: A review of current research. Research in Dance Education, 15(1), 23-53.
Chua, J. (2015). The role of social support in dance talent development. Journal for the Educationof the Gifted, 38(2), 169-195.
Chua, J. (2016). The influences of an exemplary ballet teacher on students’ motivation: ‘The Finnish Way’. Research in Dance Education, 18(1), 3-2
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 jun- ior 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 Pro- cesses 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 rela- tion to perfectionism, anxiety, and performance in elite junior performers. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 30(4), 754-765
Haraldsen, H. M., Abrahamsen, F. E., Sol- stad, B. E., & Halvari, H. (2021). Narrative Tensions in Strained Junior Elite Performers’ Experiences of Becoming Elite Per- formers. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 1767.
Hutchinson, C. U., Sachs-Ericsson, N. J., & Ericsson, K. A. (2013). Generalizable aspects of the development of expertise in ballet across countries and cultures: A perspective from the expert-performance approach. High Ability Studies, 24(1), 21-47.
Pickard, A. (2013). Ballet body belief: Perceptions of an ideal ballet body from young ballet dancers. Research in Dance Education, 14(1), 3-1.
Sanchez, E. N., Aujla, I. J., & Nordin-Bates, S. (2013). Cultural background variables in dance talent development: findings from the UK centres for advanced training. Re- search in Dance Education, 14(3), 260-27
Walker, I. J., Nordin‐Bates, S. M., & Redding, E. (2010). Talent identification and development in dance: A review of the literature. Research in Dance Education, 11(3), 167-191
Walker, I. J., Nordin-Bates, S. M., & Red- ding, E. (2011). Characteristics of talented dancers and age group differences: findings from the UK Centres for Advanced Training. High Ability Studies, 22(1), 43- 60.