The Last One: A Summary of my Monroe Project

As previously mentioned, the sample size, age range, and consistency of participation in the BalletNova summer intensive were not what I had hoped for going into my Monroe Project. The overall trends seen among the five participants in this project—being overall happy and satisfied, not reporting high levels of stress, and feeling relatively content with their lives as a whole—indicate a more positive state of emotional wellbeing than the stereotypes surrounding ballerinas would suggest. There were certainly areas in which the participants’ responses painted a less healthy picture, but there were no alarming trends across the sample set as a whole.

Envisioning, planning, executing, and analyzing the results of my Monroe Project taught me many important lessons about research as a whole. There are a few aspects of the project I completed that I would change were I to repeat it, such as increasing the length of the pre- and post-study surveys and adding additional open-ended questions to each daily log. Many of the participants reported inconsistently on one question in particular. When asked to describe their sense of belonging in the studio environment, they would proclaim feeling as if they truly belonged at BalletNova, then immediately describe a more negative situation. A number of participants also described their friendships in conjunction with their skills as a dancer, two aspects that one might not predict to go hand-in-hand. Based on these dichotomies, I would want to delve deeper into the specific details participants identified and see if I could develop a clearer analysis of their social experience at BalletNova. In the future, I hope to work with a wider range of high school-aged dancers—perhaps assembling a group of participants from each grade—and study facets of their mental health over the course of a calendar year. It would be interesting to determine what the emotional trends I studied this summer looked like during the school year, especially during Nutcracker season. I would also want to compare the dancers’ answers to those of a more general population; since most of the students at BalletNova are from northern Virginia and, specifically, Arlington County, I would be eager to get in contact with some of the Arlington high schools to gauge their students’ ability to participate. Overall, completing my Monroe Project was incredibly rewarding and has caused my interest in mental health among pre-professional dancers, especially those at my studio, to grow tremendously.