Getting Serious

Shay, Anthony. “The Male Dancer in the Middle East and Central Asia.” Dance Research Journal 38.1/2 (2006): 137-162. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 April 12, 2010

I found this article quite interesting because it touched upon all the points that Christine and I would like to touch upon on our presentations. Prior to this class, I had found a video on Youtube of Trinidadian Dance Contestant. He was auditioning with a belly-dancing piece, something we do not see on a regular basis. In this journal, Shay wants to challenge the stereotypes that male belly dancers are homosexual. “Rather, I attempt to recuperate solo improvised dance as a genre that is danced by everyone in a variety of performances, amateur and professional, by boys and girls, women and men.” (Shay 138).  This article also touches on the body image aspect of our research project. Shay writes, “The presence of male dancers, professional and nonprofessional, in public and private space requires a (re)evaluation of the meaning of these male bodies: who they were, what they did, how they presented themselves, what they wore, who their audiences were, and what the prevailing attitudes toward them were.” All of these criteria is important information that is needed when making a decision about these men. One of the problems that we encounter in the Western world has to do with the way civilizations determine masculine and feminine behavior.

Macel, Emily. “the New Athletic Aesthetic.” Dance Magazine 82.7 (2008): 30-34. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

This article discusses how dancers bodies are becoming more athletic rather than being stick skinny. The reason for this change in physique is because of a change in choreography and dance techniques. They have become more vigorous and require more training and practice. Dancing used to primarily focus on the legs and lower portion of the body, however, as times changes there are more and more women who are chiseled in their upper body as well. Li Chiao-Ping, a Professor of Dance at the Universiy of Wisconsin – Madison states, “Athleticism was prevailing in dance classes. A dancer as an athlete is something that’s becoming more of the norm.” A New York student of The Alley School expresses her feelings about her size by saying, “It’s not really about my size. I don’t have to be as thin as a rail. I just need to feel good about myself. I think that’s more of an inner connecting thing.”(Macel 2). This relates to our project because we would also like to see the shift of the “ideal” body types in the dance society. Has it changed? Or does it remain the same as it has been for centuries. We can see that times are changing because shows like Dancing With the Stars, America’s Best Dance Crew, and Dance Your A** Off have emerged and became very popular. For our project we would  like to get more into detail about these shows and the dance community in which we are involved with.


We will go about our research via photo elicitation, participant observation (we will go to different dance shows and observe the audience’s reaction), as well as short questionnaires to get a general idea of how people feel about gender and body image in the dance community. We choose to use photo elicitation in order to provoke honest opinions about the dancers in specific video segments.  For example, we will show a clip of a male belly dancer performing in a Trinidadian dance competition.  We will then ask the participant what he or she honestly thinks about the dancer. Therefore, the participant provides responses that may be shared amongst a community or society as a whole. Our targeted participants consist of males, females, adolescents, elders, and people of all races/nationalities. This method contributes to overall perceptions of male dancers. We will also show photos of dancers of different sizes (body type) in order to obtain conclusions about what body type is acceptable in society. Being that Bianca and I are involved in a dance group of our own, we will successfully be participant observers.  We will try and step out of our comfort zone, in order to critically analyze the dance population. It would not be difficult for us to become one with the group and live like they do, but problems may occur in the biases that we may create.  We are also thinking of eliminating that problem by “joining” another dance group that we have access to. Participant observation is our method of choice in order to support our research. Lastly, we opt to use short questionnaires.  These questionnaires will ask various questions about acceptability in dance culture and will advance our researcher to a stronger level.

Ethical Considerations

Our project involves the extended Indian dance community. Being that we are familiar with several dance teams, we will inform them of our study.  Given their permission, we will record pictures and videos of them in action.  We will obtain verbal permission as well get permission on video. We will then ask them if it is possible to republish their work for class purposes and research purposes as well.  By research purposes, we mean that we will ask them if we can use their photos or film to stimulate conversations and information among participants in our study. The surveys will be strictly anonymous and we will add disclaimers to the survey informing them of our research purposes.  At the dance shows we will be attending, we hope to ask some of the audience about their personal opinion on what they feel the ideal dancer looks like. We will then ask verbal permission to publish their opinion in our report.

1 Comment

  1.   lila Said:

    on 04/19/2010 at 2:22 PM

    Good job, you seem like you pretty much got it down and know where you’re heading to, but. What possible questions would you ask them?

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