International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 15 Number 10

September 8, 2014

Gender Problems in Western Theatrical Dance:
Little Girls, Big Sissies & the "Baryshnikov Complex"

Doug Risner
Wayne State University, USA

Citation: Risner, D. (2014). Gender problems in Western theatrical dance: Little girls, big sissies & the "Baryshnikov Complex." International Journal of Education & the Arts, 15(Number 10). Retrieved [date] from
General education programs, in postsecondary institutions, provide a broad base of learning in the liberal arts and sciences with common goals that prepare undergraduate students for living informed and satisfying lives. In the United States, dance units in public institutions, offering general education coursework for non-majors (dance appreciation and history, dance studies, world dance), generate 50 percent of their total credit hours per year from these courses (HEADS 2012). Rooted in the body, culture, society, and performance, dance provides ample opportunities for investigating gender. The purpose of this study was to develop an accessible, research-based essay written specifically for and directed toward students enrolled in general education courses in postsecondary dance by drawing upon qualitative data gathered from five years of discussion board postings on the topic of gender compiled from the author's courses. Student (n=312) narratives illuminate the complex relationships between dance and gender, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The essay, intended for student readers, concludes with additional discussion questions and prompts.

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