Two reversal theory-based studies investigated dancers' psychological experience at final rehearsal, and at three performances in an annual competition. In Study 1, 23 Japanese modern dance specialists completed the Tension and Effort Stress Inventory immediately before and after performance. Pre-study expectations that dancers would experience higher levels of unpleasant emotions (including performance anxiety or stage fright) and stress pre-competition than pre-final rehearsal were not confirmed. Dancers experienced significantly higher levels of unpleasant emotions before final rehearsal than before competition. Also contrary to expectations, competing was found not to be more stressful and not to require greater efforts to cope, than rehearsing. Study 2 set out to investigate dancers' basic motives for dancing and to show whether the anxiety-to-excitement reversal phenomena could be discerned during dance performance. Using the same experimental procedure as Study 1, a similar group of 15 dancers completed a dance performance experience questionnaire. The results indicated that, for the majority of dancers, the primary reason for dancing was either the paratelic, telic, arousal-seeking, or alloic-sympathy meta-motivational categories, and that many dancers experienced anxiety to excitement reversals.