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Title: Stepping 'queerly'? : discourses in dance education for boys in late 20th century Finland
Author: Lehikoinen, Kai Gunnar
ISNI:       0000 0001 3607 822X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2003
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Dance research has acknowledged that males in theatrical dance are subject to social prejudices. In masculinist culture, the stereotype of the male dancer as an effeminate homosexual has limited young males’ participation in dance. Gender-specific approaches have been developed in an attempt to get more boys involved. Located at the intersection of dance research, masculinity studies, discourse analysis and social constructionist views of the subject, this thesis examines discourses in boys’ dancing. The focus is on masculinities as performed in dance educational and choreographic accounts as well as in the self-narratives of male dance students in the late 20th century Finland. Literature review undertaken revealed that dance education is a prime site of oppression of boys. Subsequently, discourse analysis was used on primary data collected through focus groups of male dance students (age 10 to 28) and their teachers (age 29 to 49), through observations of dance classes and also through dance analysis of choreographies performed in dance educational contexts. Also secondary data on boys’ dancing -dance pedagogic discussions and media accounts - were subjected to discourse analysis. Treating the data, from a poststructuralist viewpoint as ’text’, an intertextual analysis was undertaken by juxtaposing extracts from the data with texts on gender perfonnativity, social accountability, modernity and Finnish cultural history. Above all, it is argued that multiple and sometimes competing discourses operate in boys’ dance education and choreography. However, heteronormativity is a prevalent discourse through which masculinities are constructed and performed, which can make ’dance for boys’ appear limiting to students who identify as non-heterosexuals. In consequence some boys use discursive rhetoric and perform heterosexuality to avoid being marked negatively in masculinist culture. Moreover, the rejection of effeminacy - the fear of stepping ‘queerly’ -in male dancing is embedded deep in the devaluation of women and gay men in the history of Western thinking. Such fear underscores the complex question of the social legitimacy of dance art.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available