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Contemporary Dance and Whiteness


British Academy




Royona Mitra (Brunel University)

Arabella Stanger (University of Sussex)

CU Project Team

Simon Ellis

Project Website; presentation video

Project Objectives


Contemporary dance is anecdotally described as a white field of practice. Although there is a growing body of arts research that examines whiteness as racial privilege, there is little that investigates the phenomenon of whiteness in contemporary dance. This project addresses that gap, exploring how race and racism mark the cultures, institutions and aesthetics underpinning contemporary dance in the UK. We will interview an influential contemporary dance institution and a group of professional dancer-choreographers. The interviews will be analysed alongside consultations with an expert group involving dance and post-colonial scholars and critical race theorists. These data will be integrated with secondary research from current scholarship to examine the ways in which contemporary dance generates and is shaped by practices of whiteness within the industry. We will produce a range of outcomes in order to influence scholarly and wider-public conversations about race, power and privilege in Britain.


To examine experiences and practices in the contemporary dance community in relation to race in order to understand the impact of white privilege on the discipline's aesthetic tastes and culture.


  1. generate primary data that provide insights into the way race influences contemporary dance community building
  2. reveal the language used by contemporary dance practitioners and administrators around race, power and privilege
  3. identify the ways in which race plays a part in the practices, development and programming of contemporary dance
  4. examine the current uses and blind-spots of the ‘diversity’ agenda in contemporary dance
  5. produce various scholarly and public-facing outputs which articulate our understandings in relation to the above objectives
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023