Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MFA in Dance

First Advisor

Peggy Gould


How does Whiteness exist in the contemporary White dancing body? This research stands on three pillars – delving into the concept of Whiteness, analyzing the White dancing body and how it performs in terms of racialized perception absent of personification, and the concept of the contemporary in relation to artistic practice in a racialized dance canon – to investigate how Whiteness manifests through the body. Sources from critical race theory, mainly Ian Haney-Lopez’sWhite by Law: The Legal Construction of Race (2006), and performance studies, Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s Digging the Africanist Presence (1998) and The Black Dancing Body (2008), are evaluated next to the development of a choreographic work, amniotic threading (2022), researching the DNA that comprises my own contemporary White dancing body to produce a new line of thought on how Whiteness inherently prevails in contemporary dance culture within White dancing bodies. After establishing how movement artists develop an embodied practice through a process analogous to gestation, in which a hybridized embryo of technique is cultivated containing genetic lineage of each technique and movement aesthetic embodied by the dancer, this process is analyzed next to Sara Ahmed’s The Phenomenology of Whiteness (2007), which posits that White bodies gaze outwards to the world around them, orienting their body in such a manner that the world unfolds from them.

I pose that Whiteness inherently exists in the contemporary White dancing body as an occlusion that conceals its fundamental artistic development in favor of producing a neutral culture for contemporary dance to evolve into. Proposed here is the notion that this inherent outward gaze that distinctly characterizes Whiteness might by its very nature increase the amount of culturally signified movement material that White dancing bodies are taking into the gestational development and embodied evolution of their individual artistic practice. The innateness of the outward gaze and lack of inward gaze occludes the ability to perceive the extent of cultural aesthetic threads comprising their rich dance lineage, therefore perpetuating the cycle of cultural theft and misappropriation, reifying Whiteness through the artistic development and embodied evolution of the White dancing body.

Under author imposed embargo.
Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024

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