Gender Nonconformity in Dance

While our class with Professor Mark Broomfield taught us how African Americans influenced the art of dance, as seen in New Orleans, another half of class combated the notion of gendered dance.

Dr. Broomfield challenged many preconceived notions on the reflection of gender on dance. We were asked to perform two dance moves/poses: one “masculine” and one “feminine”. Many of the moves deemed for men were limited and sharp in their movements. While in contrast, the feminine dances were more fluid and used more hip movements.

After our task was completed we were then asked to challenge our previous results and present non-gendered dances. My group decided to perform viral dances that contained no gender bias; however that notion was further questioned by Dr. Broomfield. He later explained that a dance move is just that, a bodily movement. He argued that no gender should be attached to it. Dance is a form of self expression, so why should we limit or label it in any way?

I also have the pleasure of being in Dr. Broomfield’s Dance 100 class where we discussed this topic further. He shared a video that I found blatantly ignorant (in my opinion).  The example shared in class was how the reality television show, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), promulgates gender norms about masculinity. In this video we see a performance by Anthony Bryant . Afterwards he listens to the judges critiques where Judge Nigel Lythgoe blatantly tells Bryant that his dance was not “masculine” enough. From his ribbon routine to his dress attire, Lythgoe disregards Bryant’s performance as being too “feminine” and not worthy of advancing. This is just one of the many examples of gendering we see at a nationwide level, as many forms of media mold our societal views, for better or worse. 

I enjoyed how I experienced an overlap of classes and discussions, especially on such a current and pertinent issue.

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