The Snowball Effect of Negativity in the Studio

October 13, 2015

Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nuñez know a thing or two about being sweet in the studio. Photo by Kristie Kahns for Dance Magazine.

Sometimes, being in a dance company can feel like one big group project. If one person isn’t putting in their best effort at rehearsals, it can tarnish the whole piece—not to mention the rest of the group’s morale. And even if you don’t think you are, you may be contributing to a tense atmosphere, too.

According to a recent study from the Journal of Applied Psychology, workplace rudeness can in fact be contagious. For the experiment, a group of graduate students were asked to work on their negotiation skills in pairs, and then they evaluated each other. Those who rated their partner as rude were more likely to be perceived as rude by different partners, even when the exercise was repeated a week later.

It’s an important point to reflect on, especially as companies head into busy fall seasons and prep for lengthy Nutcracker runs. If tensions run high with verbal confrontations, as in the study, just think how testy the atmosphere can get in the studio when you’re figuring out new choreography with a partner or you’re trying to master a tricky transition into a lift. When you sense a fellow dancer being rude, try killing them with kindness. You’ve got a long season ahead of you, after all.

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