Gender Problems in Western Theatrical Dance:
Little Girls, Big Sissies & the "Baryshnikov Complex"
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
This article is available in PDF format.