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Choreographic Disruption: Theorizing Mixed-Race in American Postmodern Dance


This thesis explores a theoretical conceptualization of the term “mixed-race” in American postmodern dance, transforming the dominant understanding of “mixed-race” as an identity classification into an analytic framework. Relative to other artistic fields, there are few examples of dances by mixed-race-identified U.S.-based choreographers and limited scholarship on choreographic representations of mixed-race bodies, identities, or experiences. Given this apparent absence of mixed-race content, I propose an unmooring of “mixed-race dance” from mixed-race choreographers, dancers, or overt interests in mixed-race themes, to instead theorize mixed-race as an analytic for dance studies that can elucidate the construction, operation, and regulation of race within a dance overall. The mixed-race analytic highlights moments of what I call “racial disruption” — images of race that seem unexpected or even incompatible within the dominant logics of race in postmodern dance — to interrogate the hegemonic models of spectatorship implicit in perceiving and deciphering race in dance.

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