Onlookers watch as people dance at a memorial site for George Floyd outside Cup Foods June 5, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

What is Dance Activism?

An aesthetic of resistance and a form of protest against racist ideologies, dance activism has become a meaningful part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dance marathon, April 20, 1923

Dance Marathons

In the early twentieth century, dance marathons were an entire industry—and a surprisingly hazardous business.
Two devadesis in Chennai, India, in the 1920s.

How South Asian Temple Dancers Fought Moral Reform

Devadāsīs appealed to a longstanding tradition to argue that they had a legitimate position in their modernizing nation.
A poster for Tango!, 1933

How Women Singers Subverted Tango’s Masculinity

In the hands of performers known as cancionistas, the genre known for its machismo was transformed.
Yvonne Rainer

Yvonne Rainer, Postmodern Dance, and You

In the 1960s, a group of artists started experimenting with choreography based on ordinary movement and improvisation. Now your living room is the stage.
Kathak

Indian Classical Dance and the Power of “Oneness”

Kathak is a classical form of Indian dance. Its practitioners use movement and gesture to tell stories, transcending gender and selfhood.
Based on a color lithograph of ca. 1826 by Anthony Imbert, entitled Shakers near Lebanon

The Rhythms of Shaker Dance Marked the Shakers as “Other”

The name Shaker originally comes from the insult “Shaking Quakers,” which mocked the sect’s use of their bodies in worship.
Ruth Page and Harald Kreutuzberg in Bacchanale, 1934

Ruth Page, the Ballerina Who Danced Poems

In the 1940s, American dancer Ruth Page combined poetry, performance, and personal reflection to create a new type of dance.
Pueblo Indian Eagle Dance, New Mexico

Why White Women Tried to Ban Native American Dances

In the early 1920s, reformers obsessed over the sexual nature of some Pueblo rituals, and attempted to control their performance.
Tarantella dancers, 1828

When Dancing Plagues Struck Medieval Europe

The tarantella is named for a peasant woman from southern Italy whose tarantula bite started a contagious dancing fever!