Gender and Dance

Research Topic

My research is on gender identity and dance. I am currently working with dance professor Lori Teague to explore gender identity exemplified by body and movements.

Background— Readings

I have been assigned some readings regarding gender and dance, and the first of them is Critical Gestures by Ann Daly. In her book, Daly points out a concept that “to dance is “female”” and yet in classical dance world like classical ballet men are still “in control” of women like tossing her around like a doll in choreography. This reading is a great entry to my research because it explicitly states that “dance is an ideal laboratory for the study of gender because its medium—the body—is where sex and gender are to originate… [and] where the discourses of the “natural” and the “cultural”” intersect. Another reading called In-Between Bodies: Sexual Difference, Race, and Sexuality also provides an important perspective on gender identity by stating that “rather than being considered given and and natural, bodies have been conceived as produced by social/cultural/historical influences while being resistant to those very process of production.” Therefore, gender is a constant evolving ideology that is contributed by “in-between mind (culture) and body (nature).”

Discussion— Expectations and Stories

In the first several meetings with professor Lori, we discussed about the readings, expectations for doing this research, and personal stories related to gender identity. Since I am taking two classes, dance pedagogy and improvisation, with professor Lori, some of my class assignments are tailored to relate to my research. During the meetings, professor Lori also asked me some questions to help me reflect on my personal experiences as a Taiwanese woman living in the United States and deepen my understanding of reading materials.

Future Plan

Future assigned readings will mostly come from articles included in dance conference so I can learn how to write about dance research for academia. We are planning to present the research on some of the dance conferences and this research partnership will likely continue after Research Partners Program. In the upcoming week, there will be a dance intensive held by professor Lori for me and other dancers/choreographers to do the actual dance for this research, so I will be able to participate in the process of creating a dance piece which will have its debut in early March.


  1. Bloodsworth-Lugo, Mary K.. In-Between Bodies: Sexual Difference, Race, and Sexuality. Edited by Tina Chantor, State University of New York Press, 2007.
  2. Daly, Ann. Critical Gestures: Writings on Dance and Culture. Wesleyan University Press, 2002.

3 Replies to “Gender and Dance”

  1. I think this post was really interesting, and I like the research topic that you have selected. I love how you wrote the background section by giving a brief summary of all of the readings that you did. I would suggest that you give a little bit more information on how you will be doing your research proejct. Are you going to analyze performances, or are you going to read more artciels? How are you going to collect the information you need?

  2. I thought this topic is quite interesting. For many people, it seems, dancing is seen as a “pre-sex ritual.” Is there any discussion out there on the evolutionary reasons people (and animals) dance (e.g. displaying fitness), and how this evolutionary significance might relate to gender roles? I am also curious as to why dancing is used in other situations (e.g. religious gatherings) that come without sexual pretenses.

  3. I found this research topic very unique and intriguing. Dance in some regions may be considered more gender-related than others. Are you looking at dance in a specific region or culture? It might also be a good idea if you look at the development of a certain type of dance over time. Dance could be seen as a reflection of gender expectation which evolves over time.

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