Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Women's Studies

Major Professor

Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara, Crawley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Foley, M.F.A.


Artistry, Ballet, Modern, Gender inequality, Authoritarianism, Heterocentrism


Dancers, in their formal training, are deprived of many basic human experiences and are often not exposed to critical thinking. Expectations about what it means to dance and/or be a dancer shape the classroom environment, performances and both the body and mind of individuals engaged in this particular art form. A professional dancer is expected to plan her day around the dance classroom and this mentality is shared by aspiring professionals as well as dance educators. This structure, in tandem with the expectations for a female dancer to maintain a certain body type- almost always a thin flexible body, toned long limbs, and light smooth skin for ballet performers- is limiting and in fact raises questions about a dancer's agency in the educational and performing processes. This project has originated out of my own experiences in the dance community and my frustration with those classroom structures. Throughout the paper I will concentrate on college level dance training with emphasis on women as dancers and the construction of ballet classrooms, which, like patriarchy, has created the paradigm against which most dance classes and performances are judged.