Thank you to Dolly Williams for this post on her iamdollywilliams blog. It brought to our attention a video that I have included below from The Royal Ballet on the subject of motivation. Since my research interest is in the various forms of motivation through the career of a ballet dancer, the video makes a good starting point from which to discuss this subject.
It has been my observation that when you ask a dancer what motivates them, two possible approaches are given as answers. The first is mostly reflected by this video and many of the interviews that I read. The question is answered along the lines of what motivated them to start thinking of becoming a (professional) ballet dancer. Interestingly, this approach addresses a snapshot in time and the video talks to the subject of how dreams turn into hard work.
The second approach to answers to this question look at what keeps a dancer motivated and will be a larger part of my research. This form of the question/answer usually result in responses that refer to a dancer’s perceived need to dance. Answers in this category include, “I need to”, “provides me with meaning”, “it is how I communicate”, “movement is a part of my life”, “it is my true self, my spirit”. All of these answers internalise how they feel and consequently I could suggest they have in common that they make the dancer feel good. Many careers make their practitioners feel good, but many more are ambivalent on this point. Even when they do make a person feel good, it may vary with degree and through time. For dancers, this may be more constant.
However, to be respectful to those who choose dance as a career, I suspect there is a lot more to a dancer’s motivation than a simple addiction to feeling good. What makes a dancer keep going when they fail to get that role or promotion that they have been working so hard for? More so, what keeps them elevated after the initial euphoria of successfully getting a coveted role or promotion? All of these ideas are central to my research and I welcome any thoughts or anecdotes that readers may have. Anonymity is possible if you want to contact me directly.