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A Personality Profile of Professional and Conservatory Student Dancers

Ruth Solomon, John Solomon, Lyle J. Micheli, John J. Saunders, David Zurakowski
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 16 Number 3: Page 85 (September 2001)

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Abstract: The Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS), a 144-item personality inventory developed by sport psychologist Robert Nideffer, was used for the first time with dancers in this study to explore (1) what it would divulge about the shared personality traits of elite-level dancers and (2) whether it might be useful as a teaching/counseling tool to enhance the performance of underachieving dance students. Two sets of subjects were tested: group 1 (n = 41: 22 females, 19 males) was composed of professional dancers from the Boston Ballet Company, while the subjects in group 2 (n = 42: 38 females, 4 males) were all dance majors at the Boston Conservatory. A composite profile was developed for each group by averaging the scores recorded on each of the 18 scales used in the TAIS analysis, and the two profiles were then compared in accordance with standard testing procedures. Both groups were found to be characterized by an internally focused attentional style, but the professionals were clearly more skilled in adapting this style to the elimination of internal and external distractions. This finding was reinforced by a contrast in the personality traits relating to interpersonal style, which again portrayed the student dancers as relatively vulnerable to distraction as a result of higher levels of extroversion and impulsivity, and greater ambivalence in their response to external authority. It is concluded that elite dancers do share certain traits in common, and that identifying personality characteristics that are important to success in dance may provide both students and their teachers with insight for enhancing performance.

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