Identifying Intersections of Identity as a Tool to Understand the Complexity of the Dancing Body

Presenter: Jennifer Weber; Assistant Professor, Dixie State University

Abstract:

Modern cultural contextualization has often normalized the dancing body or exoticized it, which means we, as educators, must acknowledge the construction and complexity of identity in order to advance theory and practice within the dance field. Only through an intersectional lens can we begin to challenge systems of domination.

Individuals almost never fall neatly into binaries, due to the intersectional nature of identity. It is in this overlapping space where construction of identity sits. It would not be possible to consider intersectionality in dance without the seminal work of scholars Ann Cooper Albright (1997), Judith Butler (1990), and Susan Leigh Foster (1996) who laid much of the groundwork for identity studies within dance and beyond. Expanding upon their work, how can we more accurately look at the intersections of identity in the dancing body? It behooves us to take a multifaceted view of dance in both the performance and educational spheres; otherwise, the hegemonic nature of the prevailing culture will continue to perpetuate ideals of the normalized dancing body. Even spaces that seem accepting of marginalized bodes, have no chance to withstand the dominant system of verbal language and documented histories that work to eradicate divergent strands of identity.

Through examination of existing literature, current practices, and my own interactions in the classroom with students from a generation that is more comfortable with complex identities, this paper seeks to investigate methodologies that identify, analyze, articulate, and extrapolate intersectionality in order to decolonize the dancing body on stage and in the classroom. 


Biography:

Jennifer Weber is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Dixie State University in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Film. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and was a recipient of the Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has been on faculty at the College at Brockport SUNY, University of Utah, the University of Iowa, the University of Iowa Youth Ballet, and Burklyn Ballet Theater as the Intermediate Director. She danced professionally with Omaha Theater Company, Ballet Quad Cities, and Ballet Nebraska. Ms. Weber’s choreographic work has been presented internationally and nationally, spanning full length narratives, such as The Nutcracker to abstract contemporary works. She has presented her scholastic work at conferences including CORPS de Ballet International, World Dance Alliance Americas, Royal Academy of Dance, and the Evans Somatic Conference. Her research engages critical approaches to existing codified dance techniques to reimagine the ways in which the various training methods, practices, and genres of dance can be in conversation. The direct areas of application she investigates are dance pedagogy, creative process, and the individual artist.