Dance Psychology: an Introduction

with Dr Peter Lovatt

Dance Psychology is the study of dance and dancers from a scientific, psychological perspective. When Dance Psychology is applied to dancers and dance teachers it can help people develop a set of mental skills that are an essential part of every dancer’s toolkit.

Best Practice

Some of the best dancers in the world have mental coaches who work alongside their dance coach to help them to become the best possible dancer, both physically and mentally.

Mental Skills

Mental Skills include topics such as managing performance anxiety, motivation and the pursuit of excellence. But it's not always about controlling the negatives, mental skills training is also about helping dancers to push the boundaries of the art form, communicate emotion through their movements, helping them to understand the ups and downs of the creative process and helping them to understand the demands of learning and remembering long sequences of movement patterns.

Dance is a full-brain Workout

Mental Skills are, in short, concerned with everything that is going on inside a dancer's head as they learn, train, rehearse, compete and perform.

From the Royal Ballet School to You

Dance Psychology: an Introduction, provides a basic introduction to Dance Psychology and a set of mental skills that are relevant to dance. This course has been written and developed by Dr Peter Lovatt, who teaches Dance Psychology and Mental Skills to students at the Royal Ballet Upper School and to dance teachers studying for the Diploma in Dance Teaching at the Royal Ballet School.

Varied Learning Activities

Peter delivers the content online through a series of short videos and accompanying slides. Pause & Reflect Activities, which give learners the opportunity to think about how the content applies to their own dance experience, are interleaved between the videos. In addition, Active Learning Exercises are included to help students dive deeper into some of the content areas. The course includes two suggested readings and the Learning Outcomes are assessed by a Multiple-Choice Quiz (MCQ).

Dance Breaks

And there are Dance Breaks too. Simple, short dances are woven through the learning materials to help students stay physically active during the learning experience. After all, our moto is "when you move, you improve".

For Dancers

Dance Psychology: an Introduction is designed for anyone with an interest in the teaching and/or learning of dance, and who wants to enrich their dance practice. For example, it is appropriate for teachers of dance and movement and it is appropriate for people who are serious about their dance training.

Accredited CPD

This course has been through a rigorous, independent accreditation process, carried out by CPD Standards, and successful completion of the course carries 5 hours CPD (CE/CPE) credits, which are recognised worldwide.


Dance Psychology an Introduction

What to Expect

  • What you'll learn

    Whether dancing yourself, or teaching others, well practiced mental skills are essential for superb performance. You'll learn the basics of mental skills for dancers, and their psychological foundation.

  • Expert Instructor

    Peter is an expert Dance Psychologist, dancer and educator. With over 25 years of teaching experience, most recently at the Royal Ballet School in London, he'll lead you through the course, from novice to expert.

  • Easy to follow lessons

    Through bite-size videos, pause and reflect activities, recommended readings, mental exercises and independent study suggestions, your learning is perfectly choreographed, every step of the way.

Watch Intro Video


we created this short video to get people thinking about what's going through a dancer's head as they dance and perform

Who is the course for?

Dance Psychology an Introduction is designed for anyone with an interest in the teaching and/or learning of dance and who wants to enrich their dance practice. For example, it is appropriate for teachers of dance and movement and it is appropriate for people who are serious about their dance training. These lectures were orginally created by Dr Peter Lovatt for a series of lectures at the Royal Ballet School, and they have been crafted for dancers and for people working with dancers, such as teachers, choreographers and movement directors. These lectures are also suitable for psychologists who are interested in the psychology of dance.


Dance Psychology an Introduction

Course Aims

This introductory course in Dance Psychology provides 5 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through video-based lectures, Pause and Reflect Activities, Recommended Readings and a Quiz. The aims of the course are:

  • To provide a basic introduction to Dance Psychology

  • To provide a working definition of Psychology

  • To provide a basic introduction to four areas of Psychology

  • To identify a range of mental skills and to introduce their relevance in dance

  • To encourage participants to think about their own dance practice in terms of a set of mental skills within a psychological framework

Dance Psychology an Introduction

Course Curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to Dance Psychology: an Introduction

    • What to expect from Dance Psychology: an Introduction
    • How to use this course
    • Module Guide for Dance Psychology an Introduction
    • Meet your Instructor
    • Introducing Aims, Dance Psychology and Mental Skills
    • Dance Break - Charleston - First Eight
  • 2

    Seeing Psychology in Dance

    • What is Psychology? FREE PREVIEW
    • Developmental Psychology
    • Work sheets for Seeing Psychology in Dance
    • Pause & Reflect on Developmental Psychology
    • Social Psychology
    • Pause & Reflect on Social Psychology
    • Biological Psychology
    • Pause & Reflect on Biological Psychology
    • Cognitive Psychology
    • Pause & Reflect on Cognitive Psychology
    • Dance Break - Charleston - Second Eight
    • Dance Psychology Reading Activity
  • 3

    Mental Skills in Dance

    • Mental Skills plus Pause & Reflect Instructions
    • Work sheets for Mental Skills in Dance
    • Motivation
    • Pause & Reflect on Motivation
    • Goals
    • Pause & Reflect on Goals
    • Perfectionism
    • Pause & Reflect on Perfectionism
    • Self-esteem
    • Pause & Reflect on Self-esteem
    • Dance Break - Charleston - Third Eight
    • Stress & Resilience
    • Pause & Reflect on Stress and Resilience
    • Eating Behaviour
    • Pause & Reflect on Eating Behaviour
    • Visualisation & Imagery
    • Pause & Reflect on Visualisation & Imagery
    • Active Learning Exercise - What it takes to dance for Beyonce
    • Pain Perception & Injury
    • Pause & Reflect on Pain Perception & Injury
    • Memory & Learning
    • Pause & Reflect on Memory & Learning
    • Performance Anxiety
    • Pause & Reflect on Performance Anxiety
    • Dance Break - Charleston - Fourth Eight
    • Support Networks
    • Pause & Reflect on Support Networks
    • Career Management
    • Pause & Reflect on Career Management
    • Optimism
    • Pause & Reflect on Optimism
    • Dance Break - Charleston - let's dance
    • Mental Skills Reading Activity
  • 4

    Summary and Quiz

    • Summary
    • Quiz
    • Useful Contacts and Resources
  • 5


    • Student Evaluation
Watch Intro Video

Dance Psychology an Introduction

Welcome to the course

Recognition of Learning

Upon successful completion of the course you will receive a Certificate of Completion and official recognition of five hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity.

Accredited CPD training means the learning activity has reached the required Continuing Professional Development standards and benchmarks.


Dance Psychology an Introduction

Principal Lecturer

Peter Lovatt BSc, MSc, PhD

Peter Lovatt


Peter Lovatt

Dr Peter Lovatt is an award-winning lecturer with over 25 years of university teaching experience. Peter recently left his post at the University of Hertfordshire, where he was Principal Lecturer and Reader in Psychology, to set up Movement in Practice. Peter started out as a teaching assistant at Stirling University in 1993, where he ran seminars on Cognitive Psychology and had his first experience of marking coursework. This was followed by a Psychology Teaching Fellowship at Essex University where he taught Psychology undergraduates, while he completed his PhD. At the same time Peter was also involved with teaching at the Centre for Continuing Education, which provided a range of open access courses for people to complete in the evenings and at weekends. Peter got his first full-time lectureship in 1996 in the Department of Psychology at the University of Greenwich, where he taught Cognitive Psychology and Research Methods. In 1998 he moved to the University of Cambridge, where he taught on the MA in Applied Linguistics and supervised PhD students in the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics (Faculty of English). From 2001-2003 Peter was a visiting Lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he taught the Psychology of Language to undergraduates, and from 2001 to 2004 he held the full-time post of Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Kingston University. In 2004 Peter moved to the University of Hertfordshire to take up the post of Reader in Psychology where, in 2008, he set up the Dance Psychology Lab and established a course in the Psychology of Performing Arts, which included lectures on Dance Psychology. In 2009 Peter’s teaching was Highly Commended in the Vice Chancellor’s Awards. From 2008 to 2019, Peter taught the Psychology of Performing Arts and Dance Psychology at every level of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching (from first year undergraduates to PhD candidates) in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. In 2017 Peter started to teach Dance Psychology at the Royal Ballet School in London, to both the vocational dance students as part of the Healthy Dancer course, and also on the Diploma in Dance Teaching.

Perfect Preparatory Reading

Dr Peter Lovatt has written two books on the relationship between dance and psychology.

The Dance Cure

The surprising secret to being smarter, stronger, happier.

Dame Darcey Bussell wrote of The Dance Cure "Peter has brilliantly put into words what I have felt my whole dancing life; that the power of dance can liberate and change all our lives"
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Dance Psychology

the science of dance and dancers

Dance Psychology is the study of dance and dancers from a scientific, psychological perspective. Written by Dr Peter Lovatt (AKA Dr Dance), this Dance Psychology textbook provides a general introduction to the Psychology of Dance and then it delves in to eleven of the most central questions concerning Dance Psychology. Are humans born to dance? Does the way you move your body change the way you think? Will dancing make people happier? Can dancing put people in to a trance-like state? Will a person's dance confidence change across the lifespan? Does dancing make people healthier? Why do we enjoy watching some dance performances more than others? How do dancers remember so many dance routines? Why don't dancers get dizzy? Will dancing improve a person's self-esteem? How do we communicate emotions with our body? Drawing on academic literature, this book is engaging, technical and, in places, critical; it is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Dance Psychology.
Purchase Now


Dance Psychology an Introduction