Brock Dance Research Study

(TEXT VERSION)

Results from the ” Exploring
the lived experiences of
young competitive dancers” study
Research conducted by Brock University Researchers: Dawn Zinga Ph.D. (PI), Danielle Molnar Ph.D.
(CO-I), & Maureen Connolly Ph.D. (CO-I)
This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada

TAble of Contents
Thank
you…………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………1
Demographics…………………………………………………………………………….
………………….2
Highlights for
dancers…………………………………………………………………………………
…3
Dancer
experiences……………………………………………………………………………..
3
Why do dancers choose to dance?……………………………………………………..4
Studio
environment……………………………………………………………………………..
4
Importance: A dancer’s perspective……………………………………………………5
Experiences outside of
dance……………………………………………………………..5
School………………………………………………………………………………….
………5
Activities outside of dance………………………………………………………….6
Social
media………………………………………………………………………………..6
Highlights for
parents…………………………………………………………………………………
….7
Parents’ experiences in
dance…………………………………………………………….7
Dancers’ mental
health………………………………………………………………………..8
Self
esteem………………………………………………………………………………….
8
Anxiety…………………………………………………………………………………
………8
Body
image………………………………………………………………………………….9

Perfectionism……………………………………………………………………………
…9
Finances………………………………………………………………………………..
…………….10
Balance…………………………………………………………………………………
……………..11
Highlights for dance industry
partners……………………………………………………….12
Choosing a
studio……………………………………………………………………………….12
Quotes from
parents………………………………………………………………………….13
What do you want to see changed about your studio?………….13
What do you value most about your studio?…………………………..13
Competition
experiences…………………………………………………………………..14
Top styles at competition (groups and specialties)…………………14
Scores vs judges’ comments…………………………………………………….14
Costumes………………………………………………………………………………..
…15

i

To begin, we would l ike to thank all the
dancers, parents, teachers, studio owners and competition owners who made this study possible.
We greatly appreciate your time and willingness to participate in our research.
Going forward, this research will be used to help better support young dancers and their families
in their experiences with competitive dance.

Dawn Zinga Ph. D Danielle Sirianni Molnar Ph.D. Maureen Connolly Ph. D.

0 1

Demographics
To date, we have collected data at 12 dance competitions from the beginning of 2018 through the
summer of 2019. Through this data collection, we gathered responses from 464 dancers and 682
parents and grandparents that came from 112 different studios across Canada and the United States.

Dancers Parents

Of the dancers who participated in our research, 92% were female and 8% were male. The dancers who
participated in the research, ranged in age from 8-18 years old, and on average were approximately
11 years old. With regards to the race of dancers who participated in the study, 83.7% identified
as Caucasian, 7.8% identified as mixed or multiracial, 3.2% identified as Asian, and the remainder
of the dancers identified as Black, Latino/Hispanic, Arabic, or First Nations.

Among the parents and grandparents who participated, 86.9% identified as female whereas 13.1%
identified as male. The parents ranged in age from 23 to 65 years old, with an average age of
approximately 43 years of age.
Grandparents ranged in age from 65-75 years old, with an average age of 69 years old. In regards to
race, 86.8% identified as Caucasian, 5.2% identified as Asian and 3.2% identified as mixed or
multiracial, with the remainder identifying as
Black, Latino/Hispanic, Arabic, or First Nation and Métis.

0 2

Highlights for dancers
Dancer experiences
The dancers reported that they danced as little as 30 minutes per week to as much as 35 hours per
week, with an average response of 10 hours per week.

23.5 hours and up

15.5 to 23 hours

7.5 to 15 hours

7 hours or less

Dancers also reported performing on stage approximately 25 times in a year, with the lowest
response being 1 on-stage performance per year and the highest response being more than 100
on-stage performances in a year
Favourite dance styles
The top five favourite dance styles reported by dancers were…

Jazz Hip-Hop Lyrical Contemporary Ballet

0 3

Why do dancers choose to dance?

Studio Environment

96.5%

80.7%

68.0%

55.7%

of dancers said they enjoy working with their teammates

of dancers felt understood by their dance teachers

of dancers felt their dance teachers provide them with choices and options

of dancers felt their dance teachers listen to how they would like to do things

85.4%

76.2%

60.8%

of dancers felt their dance teachers convey confidence in their ability to do well at dance

of dancers felt their dance teachers convey confidence in their ability to do well at dance

of dancers felt their dance teachers try to understand how they see things before suggesting a new
way to do things

0 4

Importance: A dancer’s perspective

Experiences outside of dance
School

98.7% of dancers said doing well in school was
important to them

Overall, dancers reported fairly high grades

0 5

Experiences outside of dance, Continued
Activities outside of dance
The top 5 activities dancers participated in outside of dance were…

Swimming Track and Field
Visual Arts Soccer
Language Classes

Social media
31.9% of dancers said that social media is a part of their daily routine The most popular forms of
social media among dancers were…

Instagram Facebook

Snapchat Tik Tok

0 6

Highlights for parents
Parents’ experiences in dance

99.0%

of parents said they enjoy or totally enjoy watching their child dance

88.7%

60.9%

14.7%

of parents said they enjoy or totally enjoy recitals
of parents said they get nervous or totally nervous when their child performs on stage

of parents said they would be upset or totally upset if their child made a mistake during a dance

87.2%

52.3%

9.1%

of parents said they enjoy or totally enjoy competition
of parents said they would be upset or totally upset if their child could not dance anymore

of parents said they would be upset or totally upset if another dancer made a mistake during one of
their child’s dances

Popular media tends to portray dance parents, particularly moms involved with dance, as overly
invested with their child’s dance experiences. This common stereotype of a “dance mom” is someone
who puts a lot of pressure on their child to succeed in dance. However, our results demonstrate
that this may not be accurate. When it comes to the parents’ enjoyment of dance, our results show
that their feelings about dance stem more from watching their child dance than from engaging with
the competitive aspects of dance. It is also clear that parents tended to be quite supportive of
their dancers rather than overly critical, contrary to the common perception of a “dance mom”.

0 7

Dancers’ mental health
Self-Esteem
Overall, dancers reported normative levels of self-esteem: On a scale of 0-30, where higher scores
indicate higher self-esteem and normative scores fall between 15 and 25…
The average score

This was the lowest reported score

This was the highest reported score

Our results also showed that self-esteem scores among dancers tended to be lower as the number of
hours of training per week increased. This does not mean that all dancers who train intensely will
have lower self-esteem. It means that there may be a tendency for self-esteem to dip a little as
training increases. This is likely due to an increased number of opportunities to receive criticism

  • both from teachers and from the dancers themselves. It is important to note that even dancers
    that trained intensively tended to have normative levels of self-esteem.
    Anxiety
    Overall, dancers reported relatively low levels of anxiety compared to community samples of
    children in the same age range.
    On average, dancers reported that they had experienced 3 of the 10 symptoms that we asked about
    37% of the dancers reported that they had experienced one or none of the symptoms

0 8

Dancers’ mental health, Continued
Body Image

Most dancers thought that their body was just right.

Most dancers said they would like their bodies to stay the same.

Perfectionism
We measured two types of perfectionism among the dancers.
1: Self-Oriented Perfectionism represents a drive to achieve exceptionally high standards that the
dancer sets for themselves.
Overall, our dancers reported high levels of Self-Oriented Perfectionism. The average score for
Self-Oriented Perfectionism in our study is higher than the average scores for children from the
general community.
2: Socially Prescribed Perfectionism represents the belief that other people in the dancer’s life
demand perfection of the dancer.
Overall, our dancers reported relatively low levels of Socially Prescribed Perfectionism. The
average score for Socially Prescribed Perfectionism in our study was lower than the average scores
for children from the general community.

0 9

F inances
On average, parents reported spending between $7,500 and
$8,000 on dance per year.
Reported overall costs ranged anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $20,000.

66.6% of parents said that the costs associated with dance impacted their decisions about how much
dance their child can take on.
Our results also showed that higher family income was associated with less concern for the cost
associated with dance when making these decisions.

The top five financial factors influencing decisions about dance were:

Travel to Competition Competition Fees Class Fees

Accommodations at Competition Specialty Fees

1 0

BALANCE
55.9% of parents said that balancing the needs of their family impacted their decisions about how
much dancing their child can take on.
The top five challenges in balancing dance and family life were: Leisure Time
Homework and Study Time Work Schedule
Feeding your children Other sports and activities

Here are a selection of comments left by parents about how they address the challenges in balancing
dance and family life:
“Juggling things was more difficult with a younger family but now my older children are driving
themselves and can help with driving our youngest dancer. We’ve figured it out over the years.”
“One must be extremely organized!”
“We homeschool which makes competitive dancing much easier on our schedules and family.”
“We are fortunate to have someone who assists with meal preparation, otherwise we would never
manage two jobs and all this dancing. Parents are great and share driving to and from all classes”
“We sacrifice.”

1 1

Highlights for dance industry partners
Choosing a studio
92.6% of parents said they were happy with their current studio
Of the parents who said they were happy with their current studio, 58.2% said that they were very
happy
The top studio-related factors that influenced parents’ choice of studio were…

The top financial factors that influenced parents’ choice of studio were…

Class fees
Travel to Competition Competition fees Costumes

Specialty fees
Accommodations at competition Required additional training Dance attire & class uniform

1 2

We asked parents…
What would you like to see changed about your studio?
The most common theme was that parents would like to receive clearer, more consistent communication
from their studio owners
Other concerns included…
“More space for large group practices” “Better office organization”
“More time for warmup and working on choreography
earlier in the season”
“More encouragement for teamwork and conflict management”
What do you value most about your studio?
Below are a selection of quotes that reflect some common themes from the parents’ responses to this
question:
“The way the kids build each other up. They are always cheering for each other”
“The full commitment that is made to fostering a love of dance and an attitude where all dancers
push themselves to achieve their very best”
“How everyone cares about each other. It is like a second family!”
“We love our teachers and studio director. They are fabulous, age appropriate and encourage our
kids to be the best they can be.”

1 3

COMPETITION EXPERIENCES

TOP 3 STYLES FOR GROUPS

Jazz Acro Hip Hop

TOP 3 STYLES FOR SPECIALTIES

Jazz Acro Contemporary

Scores vs Comments

76.5% of dancers said their score is important to them

91.8% of dancers said the judges’ comments are important to them

1 4

Competition experiences continued
Costumes

Most dancers liked the way their bodies look in their dance costumes.

Most dancers never felt uncomfortable about the way their bodies look in their dance costumes

Most dancers thought their dance costumes were
just right for their body

1 5

THANK YOU
To our incredibly supportive dance industry partners

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