Quare Dance: Fashioning a Queer, Black, Fem (me)inist Aesthetic in Ballet


What can an intersectional lens that considers race, gender, and sexuality offer ballet in the 21st century? Historically, Black and Queer stories have been relegated to the margins of ballet history in service of eurocentric, heteronormative ideals. This paper investigates the ways Black Queer Ballerinas disrupt dominant discourses on dance and identity by moving against, through, and around oppressive structures.  Grounded in the present moment and framed by a close reading of Black and Queer presences in the archive, this paper details how Kiara Felder, Audrey Malek, Cortney Taylor Key, and Alyah Baker imagine and enact new possibilities for ballet’s future—possibilities that have both aesthetic and pedagogical implications. Situating these performances of Black Queer Fem(me)inity in relationship to critical race theory, Black feminist studies, Queer theory, and dance and performance studies, I argue that Black Queer Ballerinas embody a fresh perspective on what ballet (and the ballerina) is, and can be.

Presenter: Alyah Baker