Dissertation Title:

Reintegrating the Dancer: Exploring the Experience of Work-Life Identity Transition


Jessica Pink

Date, Time & Place:

December 17, 2021 at 10:30 am


This study considers the dancer’s lived experience of work-life transition out of performance. Any passage out of the performing arts necessitates a shift in world-view resulting in unique identity challenges. The present inquiry creates a context for understanding and communicating the nature of the tensions that render this professional identity shift an existential challenge. Integrated are somatic and depth psychological approaches to identify and center common themes that arise in relation to this phenomenal identity shift. The study provides understanding of the support tools that are necessary for this foundational, transitional moment that is both understudied in the performance literature and painfully lived by many dancers. Data was collected through a series of interviews using the qualitative methods of portraiture and body stories. Through such combined methodological inquiry, this research painted embodied narrative portraits of the specific challenges faced by dancers when they make a complex work-life transition. This study thus serves two purposes: It contributes to performance studies literature through previously unrecognized portraits of the embodied experience of work-life transition, and it provides guided languaging that facilitates the transitioning dancer’s naming of their unique sets of experiences, which, in turn, can empower them to seek appropriate support, both individually and organizationally.


  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Emphasis in Somatic Studies, S, 2013
  • Chair: Dr. Kesha Fikes
  • Reader: Dr. Shelly Graham
  • External Reader: Dr. Leigh Skvarla
  • Keywords: Dance,, Identity, Transition, Somatics, Depth Psychology, Portraiture, Body Stories