Rehearsal and Performance Volume in Professional Ballet: A Five-Season Cohort Study

Joseph Shaw, Adam Mattiussi, Derrick Brown, Sean Williams, Matthew Springham, Charles Pedlar, Jamie Tallent

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Few studies have published data concerning the longitudinal rehearsal and performance demands experienced by professional ballet dancers. We aimed to describe the rehearsal and performance volumes undertaken across five professional ballet seasons and identify factors associated with inter-dancer and inter-production variation in dance hours.

Scheduling data were collected from 123 dancers over five seasons at The Royal Ballet. Linear mixed effects models were used to evaluate differences in: 1. weekly dance hours and seasonal performance counts across sexes, company ranks, and months; and 2. factors associated with the variation in rehearsal hours required to stage different productions.

On average across the five seasons, a peak in performance volume was observed in December, whereas rehearsal hours peaked in October and November and between January and April. Differences in weekly dance hours were observed between company ranks (p < 0.001, range in means: 19.1 to 27.5 hours per week). Seasonal performance counts varied across company ranks (p < 0.001), ranging from 28 (95% CI: 22, 35) in principals to 113 (95% CI: 108, 118) in the rank of artist. Rehearsal durations were considerably greater in preparation for newly created ballets compared with existing ballets (77.8 vs. 37.5 hours). Rehearsal durations were also greater in preparation for longer ballets, with each additional minute of running time associated with a 0.43 hour increase in rehearsal duration (p < 0.001). Full-length ballets, however, were consistently the most time-efficient to stage due to their long performance runs compared with shorter ballets (16.2 vs. 7.4 performances).

Training principles such as progressive overload and periodization should be implemented in professional ballet companies to manage the high and variable rehearsal and performance loads.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Specialist publicationJournal of Dance Medicine and Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Joseph Shaw received PhD funding from The Royal Ballet, via St. Mary’s University, Twickenham for the completion of this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


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