• Dancing Beyond Diversity: The Experiences of Black Female Ballerinas

      Lyn, Amanda; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Ballet tends to reflect the intersection of femininity and whiteness, which conjure images of grace, beauty, innocence and fragility. This is the same discourse that is typically used to describe white womanhood (Fisher, 2016; McCarthy-Brown, 2011). This begs the question, “What are Black female dancer’s experiences of belonging?” Accordingly, this research seeks to understand the relationship between race and gender in the production, maintenance, and destruction of power within dance spaces. Using critical race methodologies of counter-storytelling, this research draws on Lefebvre’s (1991) understanding of social space (perceived space, conceived space, and lived space) and Black geographies to highlight and amplify the lived experiences of Black female ballet dancers. Qualitative data collection methods are utilized to explore these elements and to understand the everyday experiences within dance spaces. I will be conducting interviews, engaging in photo-elicitation, and collecting blog/social media data. This research will analyze how Black female bodies navigate dance spaces and how the interaction with these spaces influences a dancer’s perception of belonging. Accordingly, the objectives of this research are (1) to examine the ways in which experiences of space and belonging are racialized, (2) to deconstruct the historic and contemporary ideals of femininity and its interaction with Blackness, and (3) to explore how racialized ideals surrounding women’s bodies are perpetuated and/or challenged within dance spaces.