Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Jennifer Deckert

First Reader

Sutton Anker

Second Reader

Sutton Anker


Derived from sports medicine, dance medicine is a subcategory that focuses on the health and well-being of dancers on a scientific and medical level. Dancers are considered “elite” athletes and artists, which requires this specific niche of medicine to study the injuries and other health-related issues that develop as a result of dancers’ unique movement. Studies show that in addition to physical injuries, dancers are also susceptible to mental health issues. There are many factors of the dance environment, such as the instructor, peers, and mirrors, that alter the self-perception of dancers. Due to dancers being required to train in a specific dance environment, they may develop feelings of negative perfectionism and body dissatisfaction, which can lead to eating disorders. Students in the Dance Department at the University of South Carolina – Columbia were surveyed to determine whether these student dancers’ responses align with research from past studies. The results of the survey were as expected for the sections regarding perfectionism and eating behaviors. However, responses to the dance environment statements were the opposite of what was found in past research. They suggest that the faculty at the university’s dance department are doing something right due to the fact that students do not attribute their feelings of perfectionism or body dissatisfaction to the dance environment. While further research needs to be conducted to assess whether the dance environment is the cause of altered self-perception in dancers, the survey results regarding perfectionism and eating behaviors are still concerning. More research needs to be conducted on why dancers are more likely to have negative perfectionism and develop eating disorders. Researchers should continue to study the implications of the dance environment and push for implementing educational programs and interventions during the dance training process to prevent these feelings and behaviors from developing.

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© 2021, Karina Desai