The coolness of dance and masculinity

Owton, Helen; Clegg, Helen and Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn (2016). The coolness of dance and masculinity. In: 5th International Conference in Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 30 Aug - 01 Sep 2016, University of Chichester, UK.


Within the dance world, gender appears to be central to lived experience. Whilst males may be the minority in more ‘feminised’ genres, such as ballet, they are predominant in genres such as street dance that allow them to conform to a more traditionally masculinised identity. Regardless of genre, however, males are more often found in positions of power within the professional dance world compared to their female counterparts. Dance teachers may have an important role to play in dance students' perceptions of gendered (in)equalities, but to date their perceptions have been under-researched. To address this gap, and given that females constitute the majority in dance teaching, 10 female professional dance teachers, ranging in age from 24 to 71 years, were interviewed. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis through the theoretical lens of symbolic interactionism. Two salient themes were identified: coolness and masculinity, and male privilege. Participants perceived that gender inequalities did exist within dance genres and in the opportunities afforded to male and female dancers. These led to greater valorisation of male dancers in terms of physical and psychological characteristics. The perceptions of female dance teachers in general are important in relation to the socialisation of future dance professionals.

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