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Title: The Final Curtain? Understanding the Career Transitions of Freelance Dancers
Authors: Ashton, Heidi
Supervisors: Goodwin, John
O’Connor, Henrietta
Award date: 1-Jun-2013
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: Becoming a dancer requires dedication and passion, years of tough, relentless training with fierce competition and harsh criticism. For dancers, dance is not only what they do, it’s fundamentally who they are. However, by their early 30s most dancers must leave the profession and this is profoundly challenging. Research in the area is in it’s infancy and a need to gain a better understanding of why these problems occur and how they develop, particularly in relation to freelance dancers, was identified. A qualitative study was conducted, drawing on literature from both sociology and psychology, informed by an ethnographic methodological approach, to gain an understanding of the problems facing dancers in transition. Data was collected from 43 in-depth interviews with dancers from both the UK and the USA, this was informed by and supplemented with field notes. A thematic analysis was conducted using concepts from Elias and Becker to provide an understanding of transition as the dancers themselves experience it. It was found that the problems stem from a strong connection and identification with the profession and that embedded in their sense of self are the cultural values and norms of the profession which are universal. These values and norms are at odds with those in society more generally and there is therefore a cultural gap when they face transition into the wider social context. Unexpectedly this study also added to the literature on youth transitions in terms of entering the profession. The literature in this area, being largely policy driven, is focused on those who are disadvantaged or those who make the transition to work from higher education. This study provides an insight into a unique group which does not fit into either of these categories and therefore makes a further contribution to this literature. These findings are used to suggest an alternative way of conceptualizing transitions using the concept of culture and introducing the concept of the ‘transitional zone’.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Centre for Labour Market Studies
Leicester Theses

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