Men in dance: undoing gender, challenging heterosexual hegemony and the limits of transgression

Christofidou, Andria (2017) Men in dance: undoing gender, challenging heterosexual hegemony and the limits of transgression. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This is a sociological study of gender and sexualities in the context of professional dance in Scotland. Since the 19th century, dance became associated with women, femininity, male effeminacy and male homosexuality. Considering the cultural attachments dance has acquired, this thesis sets to explore the conditions that influence men’s involvement in dance; the ways that different spaces, processes and relations within dance institutions in Scotland influence the negotiations of gender and sexuality; and the ways that male dancers negotiate their practice of dance and the gendered attachments this has. The discussions that unfold in this thesis rely on interview and observation data. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 men professionally involved in the performance and/or production of dance in Scotland. Further, observation was conducted in four dance institutions in Scotland: Scottish Ballet, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and two small-scale, project-based contemporary dance companies which are in this thesis named as Kinesis and Chorotheatro. This study’s findings suggest that men’s involvement in dance is mainly influenced by their social location, familial background and parents’ involvement in, and familiarity with, cultural practices. These conditions affect the time, as well as ways, they will become introduced to dance. Further, this study’s findings suggest that precisely because of the attachments dance has acquired through time, dance institutions are experienced as safe spaces where male dancers can problematise gender norms and challenge heterosexual hegemony. Yet, as this thesis demonstrates, there are tensions as we move between ballet and contemporary dance, and as we shift our attention from onstage performances to backstage practices. Lastly, this study’s findings suggest that male dancers are likely to ‘normalise’ their involvement in this practice by emphasising dance’s conventionally masculine qualities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gender, masculinities, sexualities, dance, male dancers, sociology of gender, sociology of dance.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Waites, Dr. Matthew and Smith, Dr. Andrew and Murray, Dr. Simon
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Andria Christofidou
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8186
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 14:38
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 07:59
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8186

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