Contemporary dance is anecdotally described as a white field of practice. Although there is a growing body of arts research that examines whiteness as racial privilege, there is little that investigates the phenomenon of whiteness in British contemporary dance. Contemporary Dance and Whiteness is a research project that explores how race and racism mark the cultures, institutions and aesthetics underpinning contemporary dance in the UK.
The project’s aim is to explore racism in contemporary dance and to critique whiteness as part of a commitment to the field’s anti-racist futures. We examine whiteness as a structure of racism that exists in the relationships between personal prejudice, cultural norms, and the lived conditions of inequality and racial violence. We as a project team want to walk a fine line in understanding and critiquing the default presence of whiteness in the field of contemporary dance while centering practices of liberation and solidarity through which whiteness is to be dismantled.
The research will be built on a number of conversations/interviews with dance artists, administrators and a wider project group of people invested in questions of race and race privilege in the dance industry. The ideas and experiences discussed in those conversations – along with reading available literature – will help develop our understanding, and we will share the research through the following outcomes: a journal article, an academic presentation, a public workshop, a public presentation, a video essay and this website.
The video essay can be viewed here:
Contemporary Dance and Whiteness is funded by the British Academy through their partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The project runs from May to December 2019.