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An exploration of the identity issues faced by retiring male ballet dancers

Parker, Robert (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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The main purpose of this study was to explore the identity issues faced by professional male ballet dancers after retirement from the profession, with the overall aim of increasing insight and understanding into this specialised world. An interpretive case study using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis was designed to probe perceptions and experiences of six retired dancers. Aspects of my own life experience as a dancer in training and performing for twenty-four years were used to broaden and complement the insights of the research. The study explored three key life stages. The first was related to the influence of training on identity formation; secondly, the reinforcement of identity throughout professional life; and finally, the management of social and psychological transition in the post-retirement phase. Building on the work of Goffman, Bourdieu and Foucault, the study focused on the institutionalising characteristics present in the ballet world and the pervasive qualities that can make the profession so difficult to leave. These qualities permeate a company's informal culture and include the camaraderie and sense of belonging amongst colleagues, the highpoints of exhilaration in performance, the sense of privilege in pursuing such an unusual career and the lifestyle commonly perceived as glamorous and elitist. To varying degrees, all participants experienced personal, social and psychological stress upon retirement and all retained the desire to return in some capacity to the dance world that had shaped them.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Benn, Tansin and Jenkins, Charles
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education
Additional Information:

Appendices G and H are not available in this version

Subjects:BF Psychology
NX Arts in general
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:2970
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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