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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the interplay between what is sold, bought, and invested in at dance competition events. Dance competitions, which focus on contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and ballet, and attract thousands of competitors, most of whom are adolescent girls, operate on a “pay to dance” system. Using a qualitative research approach and a theoretical framework rooted in literature on the construction of bodily ideals, the dancer’s contributions to contemporary dance practices, the formation of dancing communities, and dance learning in relation to ideas of conspicuous consumption and the experience economy, the chapter demonstrates that dance competitions offer adolescent dancers a meaningful venue through which to perform, build community, and nurture transferable proficiencies. Although not explicitly “for sale,” these qualities provide an understanding of why competitors “pay to dance.”

Keywords: dance competition, performance, community, transferable proficiency, adolescent, dancer

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