Shedding light on the stage: The training demands of competitive hip-hop dancers


Despite the growing popularity of hip-hop in Canada, research exploring the unique stressors and coping experiences of competitive dancers is sparse. As a first step in addressing this gap, the purpose of this study was to take an exploratory approach to better understand the types of demands faced by competitive hip-hop dancers and how they attempted to manage these demands. Eleven participants (5 women, 6 men) who have represented Canada at an international hip-hop competition in the past year each participated in a one-on-one semi-structured interview early in their competitive season. An interpretive description framework informed this study (Thorne, 2016). Findings suggest that competitive hip-hop dancers experience a range of demands surrounding their training context (i.e., athleticism, social comparison, pressure of expectations) as well as their ability to participate in competitive hip-hop dance (i.e., financial demands, balancing work, school, and other commitments). Participants reported using a variety of coping approaches to manage such demands, including: coping efforts centered on demands of the self (i.e., self-care, love of dance), coping targeting training session demands (i.e., team accountability, physical training), coping through the dance community (i.e., sense of family and social support, sharing the load), and efforts to manage auxiliary or compounding demands that influence dance training (i.e., time and financial management strategies, schedule flexibility). Understanding the types of demands faced by this unique population can aid dancers, directors, parents, and practitioners in designing tailored programs and support systems to supplement existing coping efforts.