Dance injuries have the frightening capability to end a dancer’s career. Because of the prevalence and severity of injuries in the dance community, access to proper and supportive care for these injuries is of vital importance. Because of this, it is common for dancers to mistreat and hide their injuries as to not jeopardize their role or job. Due to the complexity and specificity of dance injuries compared to injuries in other sports, it is crucial that supportive, well-trained medical personnel exist and are made available to those who need it. With the added stress that a serious injury causes, mental health of dancers is often affected when they are unable to dance for a length of time. In this paper, the Self-Determination Theory is discussed and examined broadly in several contexts as it relates to social structure, and more specifically how it is transmitted to the dance community. This project examines injuries in dancers, focusing on an individual dancer with a chronic knee injury, and observing her progress throughout her rehabilitation. Her exemplification of the Self-Determination Theory was analyzed based on observations and personal anecdotes. From this, I determined that she appeared to possess a healthy and positive mental space, and based on the previous collected research on the topic, fulfilled the parameters necessary to be considered autonomous. The success of her rehabilitation and recovery are presumed to have been motivated by the support of her community and co-workers. Her positivity throughout her recovery was indicative of a healthy social environment and assisted in her recovery. It was concluded in the case of the dancer observed, that her positivity about a healthy recovery and support from her community aided in her successful return to activity. The dedication and optimism about recovery that she possessed guided her to follow the physical therapist’s instructions on exercises outside of rehabilitation sessions and about the limits that she should set regarding what could be done during class. The physical therapist in this case was a trained dancer and specialized in recovery of dance injuries. I determined based on my observations that the physical therapist’s knowledge about dancers, their communities, and dance injuries, served a major role in her ability to design a suitable rehabilitation program for the subject.


Tritt, Kim

Second Advisor

Garcia, Amber


Theatre and Dance; Psychology


Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Musculoskeletal System | Other Mental and Social Health | Physical Therapy


Knee, Injuries, Dancers, Self-Determination Theory, Physical Therapy, Autonomy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Jordan E. Ouellette