Ballet for the 21st Century - Ballet and Mental Health - The Survey Pt I

December 22, 2020 Emma Lister, Makeshift Company Season 2
Ballet for the 21st Century - Ballet and Mental Health - The Survey Pt I
Show Notes

Emma Lister and cohost Zoë Ashe-Browne released a 30 question survey about ballet dancers' mental health. They never expected the response it got--hundreds of classically trained dancers filled it out. This is obviously a topic we need to talk about!

In this, the first episode of MOVERS SHAKERS MAKERS ballet mini-series, they reveal some of the statistics collected, the stories shared and speak candidly about what it all means. 

Special guests: Barry Drummond, Alex Newton, Shelby Williams


30 questions. Completed by over 400 trained ballet dancers. Graduated 2010-2020: 45%  and pre1990-2010: 55% .

*Below are only the results discussed in the podcast*


To the best of my knowledge, my school had qualified, professional teachers:

Strongly agree 51.69%

Agree 37.3%

Neither agree nor disagree 6.29%

Disagree 3.6%

Strongly disagree 1.12%

I received a well rounded dance education.  (Not an exhaustive list): injury prevention, professional development, physical maintenance, performance experience, access to counselling, nutrition, other dance forms, dance theory:

Yes 52.36%

Not sure 10.56%

No 37.08%

In ballet school I felt I could voice my concerns or questions:

Strongly agree 3.37%

Agree 15.96%

Neither agree nor disagree 22.25%

Disagree 35.06%

Strongly disagree 23.37

I experienced first-hand (either witnessed or personal experienced) verbal abuse from my ballet school staff: bad language, yelling (in anger, not above the music!), comment that made me feel uncomfortable, comment that made me feel bad about myself:

Strongly agree 50.11%

Agree 31.69%

Neither agree nor disagree 5.17%

Disagree 10.11%

Strongly disagree 2.92%

I experienced eating distress in school: guilt after eating, restricted calorie intake, purging, obsessive thoughts about weight, obsessive eating habits, extreme negative thoughts about body shape:

I did not suffer from eating distress 18.88%

I experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour from staff at my ballet school:

Strongly agree 11.01%

Agree 19.33%

Neither agree nor disagree 10.34%

Disagree 31.46%

Strongly disagree 27.87%

If you experienced sexually inappropriate, homophobic, sexist, racist behaviour, did you report it or talk about with another adult? 

Yes 12.97%

No 58.54%

Didn’t know who to report it to 28.48%


In my career I have predominantly been under the care of professional, experienced staff:

Strongly agree 16.97%

Agree 40.43%

Neither agree nor disagree 21.30%

Disagree 18.77%

Strongly disagree 2.53%

I experienced verbal abuse from staff in my work place (examples as before):

Strongly agree 38.04%

Agree 35.14%

Neither agree nor disagree 10.14%

Disagree 11.96%

Strong disagree 4.71

I have a positive relationship with at least one member of staff where I work/recent long contract:

Strongly agree 33.45%

Agree 53.09%

Neither agree nor disagree 8%

Disagree 4%

Strong disagree 1.45%

I experienced eating distress in professional life (symptoms as before):

I did not suffer from eating distress 22.26% 

I experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour from staff in my work place:

Strongly agree 15.58%

Agree 25.72%

Neither agree nor disagree 13.04%

Disagree 26.81%

Strong disagree 18.84%

I have access to professional help with my mental health through my employer/s:

Strongly agree 4.35%

Agree 12.32%

Neither agree nor disagree 12.32%

Disagree 35.51%

Strong disagree 35.51%