Research Output
Ambidexterity within the Professional Ballet World: Scottish Ballet’s Dancers’ Education Group
  Scottish Ballet’s Dancers’ Education Group (DEG) gives company dancers the opportunity to train to become dance educators. First established as a pilot programme in 2013, and led by the education department, the initiative is unique within the field of professional ballet through operating at the very centre of the company. This paper draws upon a qualitative evaluation undertaken in 2015/2016 which focussed on the mechanisms by which dancers are supported to engage in DEG and the impact this programme has had on the company’s education programme as a whole.

This presentation uses the concept of ‘organisational ambidexterity’ to explore the role of DEG in enabling Scottish Ballet to balance, sustain and promote innovative education and performance demands. Ambidexterity, originally referring to the ability of an individual to perform tasks equally well with either the right or left hand, is used within the management literature as a metaphor to theorise the ability of organisations to simultaneously meet competing or otherwise non-synchronous demands. Using ethnographic data, we identify the key enablers of Scottish Ballet’s ambidexterity in relation to DEG. These include: the pre-existing positive two-way relationship between dancers and management; the flexible and tailor-made nature of the programme; the quality of teaching and training provided; and the significance of a company culture that continues to promote the individual interests of dancers. Responding to an environment that promotes knowledge exchange and interdisciplinary study, this paper will draw together the relevant threads of dance studies and management theory to analyse the workings and outcomes of a pioneering education initiative, led by Scotland’s national ballet company.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    19 April 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Whiteside, B., Patrick, H., & Cassidy, C. (2017, April). Ambidexterity within the Professional Ballet World: Scottish Ballet’s Dancers’ Education Group. Paper presented at Dance Fields 2017, Roehampton


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