Reciprocal relations between teacher and students in female elite junior ballet: A shared reality perspective

Abstract

Purpose: To perform at the elite level in ballet requires a positive performance development while being a junior ballet dancer. Hence, the teacher-student relationship in ballet is crucial in reaching the desired performance goals. Shared Reality Theory (SRT) holds significant potential for studying the reciprocity in the relationship between human beings (Echterhoff & Higgins, 2018). Indeed, SRT postulates that human beings are relationally and epistemologically motivated to create a shared reality about a target referent (i.e., performance goals). Thus, the purpose of the present study is to investigate the reciprocity in the teacher-student relationship in the Norwegian context of junior ballet, thereby exploring the mechanisms of shared realities in relation to performance development in elite junior ballet. Design: Three female elite junior ballet students (Mage=16.7 years) and their main ballet teacher were interviewed using a semi-structured interview (Mtime=35.6 minutes). Results: The narrative analysis showed that the teacher emphasized ballet as a professional way of being. Although the teacher highlighted the importance of a continuous dialogue to achieve each student's goals, findings also showed that there was a lack of understanding and reflexivity around each student's performance development. Hence, the students were mainly influenced by the intentions and goals highlighted by their teacher. Conclusion: Findings indicate the importance of letting both teacher and students experience a shared reality about the path to achieving the desired goals in order to facilitate effective performance development. Clearly, the teacher found it difficult to let the students have a greater voice in the ballet class.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Bård Erlend Solstad, Camilla J. Knight, & Pierre-Nicolas Lemyre