Tag Archives: Popular Dance Pedagogy

Presumptuous(?) Prospectus(!)

I’m turning in my dissertation prospectus (a lengthy and specific proposal that demonstrates you are indeed prepared to go off and research/write) later tonight. One of the things you have to do is state what the intervention(s) you think your work makes in your field–in other words, Why Is This Important?

While I’ve tried to answered this elsewhere, I started from scratch this afternoon with pencil and paper and came up with a new list/set of articulations. Need to type them up anyway so I thought I’d do it here. Titled Presumptuous(?) Prospectus(!) because it feels preposterous to claim my own importance in the field/in the world, but also really exciting to position myself. This is a long road, happy for any thoughts, comments, recommendations, congratulations or criticisms.

My Contributions

Performance Analysis of (global) Popular Dance Practices
  • I want to help describe, catalog, and record the range of popular dance practices happening globally and practiced in the US, hopefully in a manner that eschews prescriptivism, essentialism, and the colonial history of projects of categorization. Instead, I view description and attribution as a principled act in a society that holds on to Enlightenment values which position the mind as separate from the body, in a political environment that polices bodies and their movement at many levels, and an economy which devalues the laboring body. In continuing the important work of Popular Dance and music scholars who have brought popular practices in to the discipline of Dance Studies and related disciplines, I want to introduce details, concepts, and analyses that are useful for treating these practices and their practitioners with the care given to canonical forms and figures, and which can be used for an expanded geographic and historical field of study.
Popular Dance on/with Social Media
  • While many scholars within Dance Studies are working on the Popular Screen in general, there is a significant hole in the literature looking at dance on YouTube. Essential work has been done by Dr. Harmony Bench [my advisor] and a few others, which I would like to build up/on. I hope to bring Internet and digital culture scholarship and cultural studies analyses together with the work being done with dance on the popular screen in order to talk about the particularities of popular dance on and with YouTube.
Economic Analysis and the Exigencies of the Popular
  • I want to utilize discussions of cultural infrastructure historically in dance and other popular forms (record companies, film studios, television networks, radio stations, etc.) to articulate the ways economics and media influence current cultural production and the contestation of agency on YouTube and social media broadly. This is especially important given the historical marginalization of communities of origin and the ongoing limited compensation for dancing bodies across time, genre, and identity.
Processual Genre and the Discursive Generation and Policing of Practice
  • To engage with New Genre Theory (my nomenclature) in its various disciplines and versions to think about the coherence of popular dance practices as processual, discursive, recursive, economic, political, and communal. In particular I argue that genre theory provides a useful framework for discussing the processes of innovation, transmission, and learning and the attending shifts in meanings and uses as popular forms are practiced across bodies, communities, and medias.
Critical Digital Ethnography
  • Following the turn to the ethnographic in scholarship on performance, I will continue to work to bring practitioner logic, knowledge, and concerns into scholarship by attending with a critical eye to the circulation of discourse on authenticity, origin, genre, pedagogy, use of media, and competency in communities of origin and broader communities of practice.

Jammin’ and Journalin’ Week 1

So, as I mentioned briefly yesterday in my post about some of the music being used, I am once again taking a Hip-Hop studio-based class. My good friend Abby Zbikowski (read more about her company, Abby Z and the New Utility, here), is teaching, and this term she’s asked us to keep a journal in lieu of other writing assignments.

I’ve decided to use this blog to journal. Now, I generally use (or don’t use, as the case may be) this space for analysis of already made representations of popular dance and movement. But as I begin to narrow my research focus I’ve realized I’m really interested in the training, labor, and strategy of the practice of popular dance. As such, ‘journaling’ about my embodied experiences and those of my classmates can help shape my research.

I’ll be breaking things down into observations, successes, and disappointments, which will be about my personal experiences, teaching popular dance, and teaching of popular dance in the university setting.

Week 1


There are a few categories of students in our class (and most elective technique classes at a university). At the most basic there are

  • people who know how to move their bodies/where they are in space
  • people who don’t

Complicated by the binary of

  • people who have experience learning from a ‘formal’ teaching setting
  • people who don’t have the knowledge of how to be in a studio class

Along with

  • +/- a sense of rhythm and musicality
  • +/- willingness to just try something even if you’re gonna look bad
  • +/- awareness of differences in quality of movement (do you hit that movement, or do you approach it? Is it grounded or bouncy? What is the pathway through space of  your hips, does that look different?


We began to work on some krumping techniques/movements, and Abby asked me to demonstrate for the class. (squee!) One day I will be as awesome as these guys: just kidding, I’ll never be able to do it like that, but it’s fun to try.


I had to stop in the middle of doing tricep pushups. My shoulders are really messed up, and I need to work on stretching and strengthening so I can have greater mobility. While we’re at it, also my knees are kinda crappy…

Stay tuned for Week 2!