Anxiety Levels in Dancers During Performance Compared to Rehearsal, Part II: Changes in State Anxiety Levels Associated with Stress

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Gregory Fraley, Hope College
Professor Linda Graham, Hope College
Dr. Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, Hope College

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In dance performance, the objective is not competition or technical improvement, but to artistically engage an audience through physical expression and dynamic image. Little, if any, is known about the psychological stress response in performing dancers. The purpose of this study is to analyze psychological anxiety associated with physiological responses. Seventy three female participants from The Hope College Dance Department were asked to complete a self-evaluation questionnaire to measure trait anxiety (STAI, Spielberger, 1983). The questionnaire served as a baseline level for each participant. We adapted the Music Performance Anxiety Inventory for Adolescents (MPAI-A) (Osborne & Kenny, 2004) to fit dance performance, shortening it to seven items. The inventory measured somatic, cognitive, performing contexts, and performance evaluation anxiety. State anxiety was measured 5 minutes before rehearsal and performance as well as 5 minutes after rehearsal and performance. Data analyses reveal that significant differences exist in dancers’ perceived anxiety between rehearsal and performance settings, t (69) =6.813, p<.01. There were differences before rehearsal and before performance, t (70) = 6.701, p<.01, as well as after rehearsal and after performance, t (73) = 5.77, p< .01. We also found a significant difference in somatic anxiety between before and after performance, t (73) =5.77, p< .01. These data suggest that both psychological and physiological stressors are important factors associated with dance performance.


This research was supported by the Carl Frost Research Center through a collaborative faculty-student grant.

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