Deliberate Practice Revisited: Complexity and Creativity in the Practice Process in Breakdance

Abstract

This study investigated the longitudinal process of practice by an expert dancer in breakdance. We examined the ability of the concept of “deliberate practice” to provide a full account of the practice process of an expert dancer. We conducted a fieldwork study to observe the practice of expert dancers under natural conditions, and analyzed data for the progress of a dancer’s proficiency at a particular skill. Results indicated that the practice process involved not only refining the quality of the skill, but also two other activities: the exploration of new and original skills utilizing the characteristics of that skill, and choreographing that skill so that it could fit into his full performance. The practice process of experts is a complicated, and creative one, which cannot be sufficiently explained by the concept of “deliberate practice” alone.


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