By on July 5, 2013

Part of our mission at Art Intercepts is to provide you with accurate and reliable resources, and, when they aren’t available, to engage in scholarly research to bridge gaps in dance education and dancer wellness. In partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University Chicago, we conduct qualitative research aimed at uncovering trends in dance training and performance, injury, and aesthetic competence.

Current project:

Qualitative Approaches to Defining Concert Dance Performance

Kay, Alexa; Warnecke, Lauren

Professional dancers experience psychological and physical stressors that contribute to injury and poor performance. Basic research focuses on the effect of interventions on physiological markers of performance. However “performance” as defined by researchers may differ from “performance” defined by practitioners of expressive art forms and these differences may influence intervention outcomes. The purpose of this pilot study was to first utilize a qualitative analysis to determine the definition of “performance” employed by practitioners. Secondly, this definition was compared to performance measures employed in quantitative investigation to determine if and what differences exist between these measures that might influence intervention efforts. Participants included two choreographers, six dancers, and one director contracted by a dance company in a metropolitan area.  All had backgrounds in ballet and modern dance. Each completed interviews and free listing responses to the question, “What is good dance performance?” Using a grounded theory approach, data and key words from both the interviews and the literature were organized into trends and quantified based on frequency of use and relevance to this question.  Words ‘like,’ ‘um,’ ‘think,’ and ‘know’ were eliminated from analysis. A qualitative comparison of frequency of terminology use between practitioners and literature revealed differences in terminology. Among practitioners, predominately emotional and experiential themes emerged such as ‘connection to audience’, ‘technique,’ and ‘personal connection to movement’. In the literature, clinical themes such as ‘muscular strength’, ‘injury’, ‘aesthetic competence’ were most prevalent.  These differences in interpretation of the meaning of good dance performance by practitioners and researchers may result in different goals in terms of performance improvements. The use of qualitative methods can identify these differences and assist researchers to consider qualitative approaches for collecting data within fields driven by aesthetics and personal interpretation.

Note: This project was approved by the Institutional Research Board in the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Past Projects:

Dancer Injury, Rehabilitation, and the Return to Work

Warnecke, Lauren; Doyle, Molly

An exploratory survey distributed to a convenience sample of adult professional dancers aimed to discover if dancers value and/or have access to preventive exercise programs and appropriate health care in the nearly inevitable event of an injury. Information obtained included injury history (annual and career), treatment, cross-training, insurance status, and recovery time.

Conference Presentations:

Note: This project was approved by the Institutional Research Board in the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at the University of Illinois at Chicago

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