Date of Award

5-2020

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Abstract

This thesis traces the racialized histories and gendered stereotypes of the jazz dance genre, from its inception on plantation dances through the stage performances of popular white jazz dance choreographers in America. It asks: What can a white jazz dance performer and choreographer do to acknowledge and disrupt white, male appropriations of a black vernacular form, a dynamic which has created and propagated gendered stereotypes of the form in its codification and commodification? This paper explores the ways in which I, a white performer and choreographer was exposed to jazz dance, seeking to honor the black origins of the form, while questioning heteronormative stereotypes surrounding the female body in the commodification and legitimization of the form as it moved from the jook onto the stage. This research builds on the work of Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Anthea Kraut, and Marshall and Jean Stearns, culminating in a choreographic and written work exploring ways to repurpose and subvert historical stereotypes, while tapping into the joy of movement at the basis of the genre.

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