‘All or Nothing’: The ethics of commitment, discipline and perfection in dance education

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By Bo Nijenhuis

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were the happiest days of my life for about seven years. Those were the days I could go to the BBN dance academy and do the things I loved to do: dancing, singing and acting. My dream was to be the star in lots of musicals. We were told, if you just work hard enough, you can get there. So for seven years (most of my teen years) I worked on my dancing skills, my voice and my acting skills. I had to miss out on a lot of typical teenage-life things. I couldn’t go to high-school parties, because I had to go to dance classes. This also meant not having a lot of friends because I didn’t have much time to socialize after school. But it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the sake of my future. To make money doing something I loved to do was the ultimate dream.

We were being pushed to perfection, which didn’t always work. You can’t be perfect at everything. I, for example, was not the perfect ballerina and my body wasn’t up to standards either. After doing numerous auditions, it became very clear to me that this dream wasn’t that easy to achieve just by working hard. As many other girls in my class, in the end I didn’t pursue my dancing career. Reality sunk in and I decided to go to university.

Looking back at that time, I realize I now have some traits that were strongly developed at the dance academy. I am, for instance, a huge perfectionist, everything has to be done as I envisioned or I feel like I failed. I am also highly committed to everything I do. If I miss a day at work or school because I feel really sick, I feel disappointed in myself as if I am just trying to make excuses. Discipline is also a part of my life still. Everything has to be scheduled. These traits can sometimes have negative implications for me and people close to me, because I am always on top of things which brings along a lot of pressure. But I would also like to think it has helped me to get where I am today. I am very interested how my former classmates feel about their time at the dance academy and whether they also still experience an influence on their current lives.

The topic of this essay came to mind when I thought of what has formed me into what and who I am today. The dance academy was a big part of my life and I wanted to find out if this was true for my former academy classmates as well. Therefore I have interviewed three girls, between the ages of 22 and 25, who attended the BBN dance academy with me and all do something different now. I have gone through their life stories to find out how they coped with all these feelings at such a young age. I especially want to look into the issue of striving for fame, not being able to fulfill this dream for various reasons, and I want to examine the concepts of commitment, perfection and discipline. How did striving and drilling for fame at the BBN dance academy instil an ethic of commitment, discipline and perfection in young dancers, and influence their future lives? This essay will thus be a subjective narrative as the theme is so close to me. Research will always be subjective as we write from our own perspective, but here I myself will be one of the research subjects. Because this essay is so personal all the names of respondents and academies are fictional.

I will begin this essay with the birth of a dream. How did we develop a strong desire to be a professional dancer? How did BBN enforce this desire? How does the social world of dance help develop an identity? Secondly, I will explain the process of realization or else shattering of the dream. What happened after BBN? Finally, I will explain the process of coping with reality. How did some of us eventually realize the dream? Or how do the rest of us cope with seeing our dream unfulfilled? What impact did that period in our life have on us right now?

BBN Dance Academy

Of my former BBN classmates, Marnie (25) now works as a manager at a clothing store. She started at the BBN academy at the age of nine and stayed there for nine years. After that she did numerous auditions until she was accepted at the HF academy, a highly renowned musical academy situated in Amsterdam. She finished the HF academy at the age of 22. Nana (23) currently works as a freelance dancer, entertainer and dance teacher. She started at BBN at the age of eight and stayed there for ten years. After that she was accepted at the Blue dance academy in Rotterdam, which she finished at the age of 22. Ann (23) studies political science at the University of Amsterdam. She started at BBN when she was nine and stayed there for nine years. As high school came to an end she decided not to go through with dance, but to go studying and traveling. As for me (23), I study anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. I started at BBN when I was nine years old and stayed there for eight years. After numerous years of dance classes and criticism I realized a dance career was not for me.

Bo Nijenhuis - illustration1

When I started at BBN it was called Stage for Dance. We practiced in a small building with three middle-sized studios. Our cafeteria was really small but cozy and in our short breaks the lady who worked there made sure our food (microwave dinner) was ready to eat. Three days a week my group was there for about three-and-a-half hours to train our bodies and improve our skills. We had classes in jazz, ballet, vocal coaching, acting, tap dancing and hip hop. Classes took an hour on average, except for jazz and ballet. Those were considered the most important classes for teaching the general techniques which one needed to master to become a professional dancer. These classes took one hour and 15 minutes, twice a week. BBN was a world outside of our normal everyday activities. It wasn’t just dancing one hour a week for fun. It was dance training at high level, with people who could keep up with that.

I think I can speak for everyone who has been part of BBN when I say it felt like having a second family. We spent so much time together I couldn’t see it any other way. We had different teachers for each class, most of them women. Some I found really mean as they seemed intent to put you down, others gave more encouraging criticism which was intended to improve yourself. As I did my interviews, I came to know that others felt the same way. Looking back it was a lot to handle for children that age. We all started around the age of nine and we had to deal with discipline, harsh criticism and a roller-coaster of emotions.

‘You have to be really strong and confident if you want to get through that. Especially when you are a child it’s kind of a big thing. You are not used to receiving criticism in such a harsh way. You are not used to being pushed to the limit. It can have great impact on children that age. You must, you must ,you must.. and sometimes you think I don’t want to do that right now.’ (Nana)

At the end of each year there was a big performance which was highly anticipated by everyone months before, because we all wanted to be the lead dancer or singer. Sometimes we even had to audition for it. Only the exceptional dancers and singers got a starring role, the others got a place in the ensemble. If you were average at everything, the leading roles were just not for you. For the rest of the year we would do a few small performances, which were fun as well because there were always many people who would come to watch.

At BBN you couldn’t help but get excited about the future. Often times a guest dance teacher came by to teach us a choreography out of a well-known musical. Getting a glimpse of what life as a professional dancer or artist would be like was a big motivation to carry on.

The start of a dream

When I started this research someone asked me what it is about being on stage that is so attractive? And I couldn’t give any clear answer. So first I want to get to the roots of the dream of becoming a professional dancer. How does this dream come to mind? How is it developed?

By accident I became a student at BBN, that is where my dream began. As all of my classmates, initially I just came to have a good time dancing. We had the opportunity to dance 10 hours a week, could it get any better?

‘Initially I just really wanted to dance a lot, I loved it.’ (Ann)

As dancing became more prominent, so did the thought of dancing as a profession. The thought of actually making money with something I love doing was an eye-opener for me. I always thought working should be sitting behind a desk from nine to five. So how did dancing for fun turn into a desire to be a professional dancer? BBN had a big part in stimulating that dream as it was very much directed towards the next step. The next step being the dance academy. The dance education at BBN was designed as pre-education, meaning that it prepared for higher-level professional education. So even if the students danced for fun, we knew it could take us to the next level if we wanted it to be.

‘You get a lot of opportunities to… for example when we got a workshop from Saturday Night Fever, of course that motivates you. Or that time we were asked to do Chicago and that they specifically asked for people from pre-education, that encourages the feeling you are actually good enough to do that.’ (Marnie)

As Marnie explains, the feeling of being good enough made us strive to be even better. Guest dance teachers were living proof of the possibility to make it in the dance industry.

During my research I came across an article about the ‘truths of dance’ by Melanie Doskocil (2011). She names fifteen truths about the dance world. As these truths are very much in line with the concepts taught at BBN, I will go through a number of them to demonstrate how these concepts worked. The first ‘truth’ is ‘dance is hard’ (Doskocil, 2011:1), which means dancers need to work hard, always improve and go to the extreme in training their bodies. You can’t get there with talent alone. BBN definitely encouraged the students to strive for perfection. Meaning you should train and stretch your muscles whenever you can, do exercises and practice as much as you can, so you will get better in time. ‘If you do this exercise you will be able to lift your leg up higher’, or ‘if you do that you will be able to make more pirouettes’ were everyday comments at BBN academy. Students were pushed to improvement so often it became internalized as we can see in Marnie’s case.

‘It was really a dream to make my passion… To turn your hobby into a profession. That you will give anything to feel how dance makes you feel. Yes, I don’t know, there is some kind of adrenaline that pumps through your body at that moment. And at that time I couldn’t live without it anymore, really… I went overboard. I was at the gym three times a week and I just wanted my body to be in perfect shape. So I was prepared to do anything physically. I was even practicing pliés in the weekend. At some point I was consumed by it day and night.’ (Marnie)

Maintaining our body became a necessity rather than an option. The dream quietly developed in our minds until it became a certainty.

‘I think I was in my first year of high school, when I really started to think about what I wanted, what I am capable of. And dance just was a part of it and it became bigger and bigger.’ (Nana).

The dream was not only in our heads anymore, it became part of our body. By training and practicing, this dream grew into our muscles. We literally internalized the dream. The physical conditioning of the body became a key part in achieving the dream, as I will further discuss in the section on ‘coping with reality’.

The second ‘truth’ I want to discuss is: ‘You won’t always get what you want’ (Doskocil, 2011:1). Meaning that you won’t always get the desired parts, roles and solos. You need to accept rejection and move on to the next thing. At BBN we were taught you will hear plenty of no’s before getting a yes, so keep going. If you break down each time you are rejected, you won’t have the energy to keep moving. In dance you are already criticized a lot as it is, so that rejection becomes something you can handle.

‘Because I had faced so much criticism it didn’t get to me as much as it used to. With that mindset I went through the auditions of higher education. I thought: well if this is it, this is it. If I am not accepted anywhere I will move on to plan B.’ (Nana)

Castings for certain roles or parts in a play were almost always a search for someone with a certain height or a certain look, so nine out ten auditions you get rejected because you don’t fit the part. Thus although the teachers at BBN could be harsh, it was taught not to take rejection personally. Ann describes this perfectly:

‘It is about criticism. You are always criticized by everyone, also by your teachers. If you can let that go and then have a drive to go for it, you will get there.’ (Ann)

The third ‘truth’ I wish to discuss is: ‘There’s a lot you can’t control’ (Doskocil, 2011:1). Meaning that you can’t control if someone likes or appreciates your skills, you can’t control who will give you a job, you can’t control the social world of dance. As a young dancer at BBN I quickly learned that the only thing we can control as dancers is our own body and mind. Since those were the only things we had control over, they were pushed to the limit. We were taught that the rest is subjective, opinions are subjective so just take care of what you can control. The social world of dance is something me and my classmates all had struggles with. Dance can become very political, sometimes it is not just about talent and drive.

‘If formations were made for the end performance, well if she liked you, you would be front stage.’ (Ann)

So besides having talent and drive, it was also about the social connections and whether the right person liked you, to get to the top.

The fourth ‘truth’ I will discuss is: ‘If you want to be successful, prove you are valuable’ – ‘Show up early, know your material, be prepared, keep your opinions to yourself unless they are solicited and above all be willing to work hard’ (Doskocil, 2011:1). I find this explanation very typical of the dance world. To be prepared and to know your material is a way of controlling the things that you do have control of. It makes perfect sense. Express yourself, put yourself out there and prove you are valuable and irreplaceable. The part about keeping your opinions to yourself I find particularly characteristic of dance education. Just as it is an unwritten rule not to talk back to parents, it was an unwritten rule not to talk back to the teacher. As dancers we were supposed to take criticism and turn it into something positive. Criticism was given to make us better dancers, so talking back was unnecessary. This is especially difficult for teenagers (as we were at BBN), as your hormones are going all over the place and you feel like you have to stand up for yourself and get your point across. Nana found this social structure hard to deal with at first.

‘When I said one time that I don’t like being addressed like that, she would state in following reports that I was bold and not able to receive criticism. Although that changed over the years.’ (Nana)

Putting yourself out there and knowing when to keep your opinions to yourself might seem contradictory, but it wasn’t for me. When in class we needed to keep our opinions to ourselves and do as we were told. When the music started and we had to perform, that was the time to express ourselves. The body was the only tool to prove your value, opinions didn’t matter on stage.

This made me think how agency fits into place (Bucholtz, 2002). Being told in adolescence to keep your opinions to yourself seems like a way of being inhibited to perform agency. Especially between the ages of 10 and 16 children are most susceptible to outside opinions and influences. In this life stage, youth who are involved in dance are easily made to think that they should put agency on the back burner. One time in class a girl spoke up to our teacher, who got really mad at her for talking back. When I saw this rage in our teacher’s eyes I knew I would never talk back, because I was really intimidated by her. Besides, it didn’t serve any purpose because you wouldn’t get a starring role or dance on the front stage if you were on the teachers’ bad side. I didn’t know what agency was back then, but looking back I definitely decided not to perform agency for the sake of my future in dance.

The fifth and last ‘truth’ I am discussing is: ‘Repetition is good. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insane’ (Doskocil, 2011:1). This refers to always striving for perfection. If you want to be the best you should practice as many hours as you can, don’t be satisfied with the minimum. Most dance academies teach dancers to be in an ensemble, a large group of dancers behind a solo artist. There are many good dancers but only a few spots are available for solo artists. Therefore it is important to practice and train your body, so you can beat another person with the same talent.

To live or to leave a dream

The dream of becoming a professional dancer can be easily shattered by a variety of obstacles. For one thing, the body is your instrument as a dancer. If your body no longer works, you can’t follow the dream. Therefore dancers need to take extra care of their bodies, because their careers can abruptly end if they don’t. Dancers can also come to the realization that they do not meet top standards. In the early stages of your dance career you can learn and develop. When the time has come to find a job and nobody will hire you, you have to question yourself whether you meet the standards. This brings me to the next obstacle: body image. Because dancers are mostly taught to dance in an ensemble, they have to look alike. In Green’s article, a young dancer describers how a dancer should look like.

‘Buttocks= Small, proportional to the skinny legs, and round, it must be firm and not jiggle. Stomach= Flat, no bulge, preferably no room to pinch an inch. Should be hard. Hips= No fat, as close to the bone as possible, no love handles. Waist= Should have a straight line. No large hour glass shapes. Shapely to attract men, never sag.’ (Green, 2002: 111)

This is exactly the way I felt we should look according to BBN standards. My three classmates all had something ‘wrong’ with their body. Marnie’s butt was too large, Nana’s legs were too big and Ann had a swayback. They all got criticized on it.

‘They would say: well you have to pay attention to your eating habits, maybe you should go on a diet.’ (Nana)

However, oftentimes these were body parts that could not simply be altered by dieting or exercising. It was just the way the body was built.

‘I did one time receive my dance report saying: well you are not too fat, but you shouldn’t gain any more weight, I found that really hurtful.’ (Ann)

Not fitting the box of what a dancer should look like is also a way of not being good enough.

The last obstacle is feeling the pressure. Some dancers can’t handle the pressure of being pushed to the edge and always needing to prove yourself. Those are the people who come to realize that dancing – because of the politics of dance – is just not for them. I use the concept politics of dance to refer to the unwritten rules of dance. I, for example, didn’t feel I fitted the ‘general’ dancer image. I also didn’t always feel like putting myself out there, in front of others. The competitive part of dancing never appealed to me. The politics of dance can thus make or break you, because it brings a lot of pressure and you have to be able to deal with that.

Of course there are people who do make it in the dance industry and become very successful. For dancers with the ‘perfect body’ and talent this dream is obviously easier to achieve, but this doesn’t mean that the people who don’t have that body can’t get to the top. As I learned from Nana, we should always see our own value and be comfortable with that.

‘Some roles are just not for me, you need to be realistic and know the path you are taking. I do what I do and if you don’t like it there is someone else who will’. (Nana)

To make it in the dance industry you have to be very down to earth and also be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Nana’s story is a good example of that. After BBN Nana went to the Blue dance academy in Rotterdam. Although her body didn’t fit the ideal dancer image, she was persistent anyway. Contrary to BBN, at the Blue dance academy she wasn’t taught to excel in ballet and jazz and to always be on the foreground. Instead she was taught to use her own abilities and talents to attract people.

‘Blue dance academy is focused more on molding an individual, make it your own, make yourself unique.’ (Nana)

And that is what she did. After finishing Blue dance academy she started her own business making shows and creating dance events. She is also a dance teacher in all sorts of dance styles. She now teaches 22 hours a week. She is living the dream, though in her own way.

As children we were directed into a certain direction. We learned that in order to achieve the dream we had to look and behave a certain way. Nana definitely made me realize this dream is not as static as we were made to believe. She followed a different path and proves to be just as successful as others. Living the dream appears to be possible in numerous ways.

Marnie went to the HF academy in Amsterdam after BBN. This college is more focused on musical, singing and theatre, although dance is a big part as well. Here, Marnie started to doubt whether dance was what she really wanted to do.

‘During my time at the dance college I often thought about switching studies. Which made me wonder, is this normal, does everyone go through this? Is this really what I want? I continued it anyway and then you graduate and then I didn’t know what to do for some time, now what? I planned to go through auditions besides having a job and it didn’t work out.’ (Marnie)

After finishing, Marnie had bills to pay and so she took on a job in a clothing store, while attending auditions. After numerous fruitless auditions she gave up. She has since worked her way up to manager of a clothing store and is very satisfied with her life right now. Professional dance just wasn’t for her.

Ann didn’t continue her dance education after high school. At BBN she already had the feeling that she wasn’t good enough and didn’t fit the box.

‘I am ambitious enough to be the best or to get to the top and I am.. I just wasn’t good enough. I was good, I did good at pre-education, but if you look beyond that, I just didn’t cut it’. (Ann)

She loved to dance but also realized after ten years of dance education that she wasn’t going to be the best at it. Her ambitious attitude took her to the United States to travel for half a year. After that she went to the University of Amsterdam to study political science.

When I finished high school at the age of 18 I had been dancing for ten years. The majority of these years I spent at BBN being pushed to the limit. My joy in dance had slowly disappeared and the thought of always having to put myself out there became exhausting to me. I felt I had already reached my peak and now it was time to go in a different direction. So I went to the University of Amsterdam to study anthropology, something I was also really interested in since a young age.

Coping with reality

As a dancer you need to be realistic, what are you capable of and what not. Looking back, I think it is because of this attitude that students who don’t become a professional dancer handle this very well. If for any reason you can’t become a professional dancer you have to deal with that and move on. Because we knew from the start there is a big chance of not making it to the top, we were taught it is important to have a plan B. This means dancers always have something else to fall back on. In Nana’s case this was event management. Besides dance she took classes and earned degrees in this field. I think it is because of dancers having a plan B, that they don’t end up devastated about not living the dream. If you should only focus on dance and it doesn’t work out, it would be hard to focus on something new. ‘The process of grieving for the lost-imagined-adult-self which was primarily embodied as a ballerina can make new and alternate futures difficult propositions in which to invest’ (Loch, 2013:10). But it wasn’t like that for us.

I was focused on dance but I knew I could always go to university if I wanted to and that is what I eventually chose to do. For a moment it was hard to deal with having had a dream for so many years and then seeing it all come crashing down. Not so much the decision to not become a dancer was hard, but more so the doubts I had about something I was so sure of for what seemed to be all my life. This doesn’t mean I don’t miss dance and that I don’t think about it. I would love to dance again, but not for just one hour a week. It is all or nothing and I can’t give my all right now. The same goes for Marnie.

‘I miss performing, I miss getting ready, the smell of it.. when I think about getting onto that stage in the dark, when I think about Orpheus.. I loved the spotlights being on me, that you don’t see the people but you know they are all watching. At that moment there is nothing more satisfying than being the center of attention. The stage is there for me to perform on. You transform for a second, but you have to go for it or don’t do it at all. I do think BBN intensified that into the person I am today.’ (Marnie)

Looking back now on that part of my life I find that there are certain ethics within myself I think I strongly developed because of my involvement in dance education at such a young age. The ‘truths’ discussed earlier can be related to these ethics. For example, striving for perfection is something I still deal with in my everyday life. Nothing is ever good enough and nothing is ever finished. All my former classmates had the same vision: we started striving for perfection at such a young age that we have internalized it, and that is why it is still present in our life right now.

We started striving for perfection at such a young age, I think that happens in every sport, in every form of art and culture. I think if you are drilled in high-level sport you get the same thing.’ (Nana)

Within this perfectionist lifestyle there is also room for self-reflection. What am I doing right and what am I doing wrong in this situation, is a question I often ask myself. This is a sign of personal reflection still being part of my life. Marnie feels likewise.

‘I still use self-reflection. You are constantly confronted with yourself. Literally with a mirror but also figurative they hold a mirror in front of you, looking at your behavior.’ (Marnie)

Living the life of a dancer has also made us more selfish, but I feel in a positive way. We have learned to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. You have to be in some sense selfish to achieve what you want to achieve. In the dancing scene you always have to put yourself before others.

‘I have become a bit more selfish, like getting into a train. First I would think: I will see when there is a seat available. Now I think let me get to the door first so I can sit down. I have become a bit more selfish and bold, I wasn’t like that before.’ (Nana)

We have also learned not to care as much about what other people think of us. If you are sure of your path it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of that. Ann was most clear on this issue. According to her there will always be people who envy you, are jealous of you or who don’t like what you do, you just have to figure out whose opinions really matter.

‘I have developed a thick skin because of that, I can take a lot of shit from girls. We were bullied, talked about and so on but you learn to deal with that.’ (Ann)

Because there are so many others in a dance ensemble, you have to learn to be a team player. You are grouped with people of the same talent or age. And there is always that someone you don’t like. To dance together you have to learn to put your differences aside and still put on a good show.

‘And I learned to be a team player, with a lot of different people. You may not like each other but you have to.’ (Ann)

The last concept I wish to discuss is a disciplined and organized life. Because dance students have had such a structured life from a young age, this has stretched over to their adult lives. BBN academy was an intensive dance school which we attended next to regular school. This required a lot of structuring of homework, exams, dance exams, performances, meals and of course sleep. This also meant our social lives were put on hold. School parties, kids’ parties etc. were things we had to sacrifice in our journey of becoming a successful dancer.

We learned to schedule, combine and discipline, just going for it, you know. We learned to pull through, something else then just going to school, really doing something.’ (Ann).

In ‘Schooling the dancer’, Angela Pickard (2011) links dance education to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. Habitus is a set of internalized ideas learned through the social environment. According to Pickard habitus is productive and reproductive and thus is achieved by teaching and practicing. By rehearsing ballet techniques over and over, the muscles memorize the actions. Eventually we can reproduce them perfectly by ourselves. This embodied set of acquired dispositions and the steps that are inscribed into the dancer’s body are, in Bourdieu’s terms, a core part of the dancer’s habitus’ (Pickard, 2011: 27). I agree with her that ballet technique designs a habitus for dance students which they hold on to in their further lives. I, for example, have internalized ballet steps at such a young age that I am now able to teach my students the techniques I have learned.

I do see this embodied set of dispositions as cultural capital as Bourdieu would say: The embodied state, i.e., in the form of long-lasting dispositions of the mind and body’ (Bourdieu, 1986:47). Ballet technique is the cultural capital we get from our teachers to take us to the next level. Which relates to the social set of values discussed earlier. The social set of internalized ideas relates to another one of Bourdieu’s capitals, social capital. Social capital is the product of the values learned in the social environment. The ‘truths’ I discussed are all values that belong to the cultural capital of a dancer. It also reinforces mutual relationships and social networks, which in turn can be seen as social capital (Bourdieu 1986:5). The key sets of ethics and techniques we as dancers learned and still use in our everyday lives I consider to be social and cultural capital which form our habitus.

Conclusion

Without actually realizing it, we had all internalized the ideas and ethics that we had learned at a young age at BBN academy. The making of a dream started when we were at an age that you see the positivity in everything. Realizing that this dream isn’t that easily achieved is hard, but it also brings you down to earth. Going through these emotions and difficult social situations at a young age instils an ethic of commitment, discipline and perfection. When I look at my respondents/friends I see similarities with myself. These women are extremely driven in what they do. Whether it be dance or something else. They have a tight schedule and are all about personal development and perfection. They all look back at that time as a good time but also a bad time. They have learned a lot besides having to deal with social issues and situations which they shouldn’t have had to deal with at that age. I feel the same way. ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ in dance education made me who I am today and that is something I am proud of. Although I didn’t pursue my dream of being a professional dancer, I did become a dance teacher. This way it is still a part of me.

I have learned a lot doing this research about myself and the social environment I was in. With this essay I have had a chance to hold a mirror in front of myself and learn about the person I am today. I have also gained more insight in the way my classmates felt and feel about that time and I think I got a little closer to them because of that. Dance is still a big part of my life, teaching my students the things I was taught brings me great joy. It gives me peace of mind, knowing I have not forsaken my dream altogether. I still have a small hope that somewhere, someday an opportunity will arise, which I will grab with both hands.

(Written for Youth Cultures in a Transnational Context)

References

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In Handbook of Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. J.E. Richardson, pp. 241-258. New York: Greenwood Press.

Bucholtz, M. (2002). Youth and cultural practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 525-552.

Doskocil, M. (2011).15 truths about being a professional dancer. Balletpages Blogspot.

Green, J. (2002). Foucault and the training of docile bodies in dance education. Arts and Learning Research Journal, 19(1): 99-125.

Loch, S. (2013). Seeing futures in ballet: The storylines of four student ballet dancers. Discourse, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2013.829658.

Pickard, A. (2012). Schooling the dancer: The evolution of an identity as a ballet dancer. Research in Dance Education, 13(1): 25-46.

Cover illustration: the author’s three sisters who always tagged along with her to dance class.

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