The Show Must Go On:
Psychological Perspectives on Dancing With Pain
Ruth Anderson BSocSc, MPsych
Professional dancers learn to cope with and tolerate pain as a routine part of the requirements of training and performance. While this assists dancers to push through arduous training regimes, and master difficult technique, as they take their bodies beyond normal limits to pursue performance excellence, it exposes dancers to the risk of injury. The cultural expectation to dance through and ignore pain enhances the ability to persist under adversity and enhance performance standards, yet it leaves dancers vulnerable to being unable to recognize when the pain is acting as a warning sign of potential injury. A contradiction exists for dancers in a culture that requires a high pain tolerance to reach performance standards, yet need to be injury free to perform at their best. While much can be learned from dancers ability to tolerate and perform with pain, it is important that dancers learn how to recognize the type of pain experienced to assist in determining what is considered to be a routine aspect of performance and what is a signal of impending physical harm.
Journal of Pain Management ISSN: 1939-5914 Volume 3, Number 4-Special Issue pp. 377-381