• Founded
  • Seminar Number

Studies in Dance takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach to dance scholarship while serving as an ongoing forum for discussion by established and younger scholars.  The Seminar embraces all forms of dance scholarship, regardless of discipline, research area, and methodology, and has the long-term goal of encouraging academic publication and new research.  The members include Barnard College and Columbia University faculty as well as independent scholars and faculty from other New York institutions, although speakers may come from outside the metropolitan area.

Professor Lynn Garafola

Emily Hawk

Anna Waller

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

09/28/2020 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
Dunham's Data
Harmony Bench, Ohio State University

Kate Elswit, University of London (England, UK)
Speaker Link Abstract


Dunham’s Data is a three-year project (2018-21) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain (AHRC AH/R012989/1), under the direction of Kate Elswit (PI, University of London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and Harmony Bench (CI, The Ohio State University). Through this project, we explore the kinds of questions and problems that make the analysis and visualization of data meaningful for dance history. We do so through the case study of choreographer Katherine Dunham, manually cataloguing a daily itinerary of Dunham’s touring and travel from the 1930s-60s, the dancers, drummers, and singers in her employ during that time, and the repertory they performed. These curated datasets provide new means to understand the relationships between thousands of locations, and hundreds of performers and pieces across the decades of Dunham's career, and ultimately elaborate how movement moves.

10/26/2020 Online Meeting
2:00 PM
Vertigo and the Revolutionary Body in Modern Europe
Elizabeth Claire, Center for Historical Research (France)


This chapter concerns the role of the imagination in the pathology of vertigo in the period following the Revolutionary Terror when Napoleonic imperialism was at its zenith. The nationalization of waltz-vertigo as a French dilemma will be contextualized as a gendered socio-political phenomenon allowing physicians and moralists to link women's desires and ambitions [envies] to ancient medical concepts about the powers of the imagination in order to pathologize female empowerment just as bourgeois sociability came to invest new sites of social dancing throughout Europe.

11/23/2020 Online Meeting
2:00 PM
Queering Jewish Dance: Baruch Agadati
Alexander H. Schwan, Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)


Using the example of Baruch Agadati, one of the first modern Jewish artists to develop religiously-themed choreographies, I will investigate aspects of implicit religion in modern dance, asking how religiousness was visualized and evoked, specifically through dance aesthetics. I focus on the connection between modernist body culture and Jewish spirituality in its broadest sense and try to explore how specifically Jewish-religious ideas fueled the concept of the New Jew and its connection with dance, sport, and movement in general.

12/14/2020 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
Final Bow for Yellowface: Dancing between Intention and Impact
Phil Chan, Co-Founder, Final Bow for Yellowface


Our conversation will revolve around the history of Asian representation in classical ballet, and present solutions on how to update Eurocentric portrayals of racially "outsider" groups while preserving dance history, legacy, and tradition for diverse contemporary audiences.

02/01/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
The Rat de l'Opéra and the Social Imaginary of Labour: Dance in July Monarchy Popular Culture
Olivia Sabee, Swarthmore College


Mid-nineteenth-century literary and theatrical depictions of rats de l’Opéra (young girls training and performing with the Paris Opéra) emphasize their physical and material hardships, dubious morals, and shapeshifting abilities. Physiologies (mass produced books that classified social types), sensationalist histories of the Paris Opera, and vaudeville livrets each underscore these qualities of the rat in their depictions of her, yet they also emphasize her role as a worker. In this draft I explore how these representations of the rat connect ensemble dancers with the idea of labor in the social imaginary, crafting an image of the ensemble dancer as physical laborer, juxtaposed with the star dancer as expressive artist.

03/01/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
What Is Black Dance? What Can It Do?
Thomas F. DeFrantz, Duke University


What are the terms of dance that allow for the emergence of Black dance? How are identity and culture implicated in the articulation of genres of dance? How is it that televisual dance – music video dance – inevitably seems to refer to Black dance and its aesthetic values? What are the foundational modes of gesture, rhythm, musicality, and social relationship that produce Black dance? This essay considers the formation of Black dance as a critical category created by dancers, and the terms of address that produce that same category among researchers and critics. An assessment of the historical becomings of Black dance allows us to think through the different sorts of access that insiders and outsiders have to its contents. The essay considers examples of dance to suggest divergent, but related forms of Black dance: theatrical and social. The terms of “doing” for Black dance as resistant demonstration and embodied aesthetic protest will be discussed through the examples. We will also consider cultural appropriation as an urgent mode of analysis relevant to the construction of Black performance theory and Black dance.

04/12/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
'The Boy from Kiev'—Alexei Ratmansky and the elusive sense of cultural identity
Marina Harss, Independent Scholar

04/26/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
A New Biography for Jack Cole
Debra Levine, Independent Scholar