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Dance History II: Spotlight on Undergraduate Research

The exhibit Dance History II: Spotlight on Undergraduate Research highlights the research projects of six dance students enrolled in Dance History II taught by Kaus Sarkar in Spring 2020. During the course, students explored historical and cultural influences that affected the development of concert dance in the twentieth century. Research topics ranged from minstrelsy to modern dance. Dance students critically engaged with historical and movement archives, utilizing choreographic and discursive analysis to address issues such as racism, orientalism, social justice, and homophobia. They asked questions like, "Why should dance technique start on the floor?" and "What is the legacy of Bill Bojangles Robinson?" as well as "What is the contemporary relevance of canonical works of ballet?"

The exhibit includes students' abstracts, proposals, and final presentations in order to chronicle their research progress. During the quarantine for Covid-19, the class shifted to an online platform. However, students were able to continue their research about dance history and share their findings with their classmates. In turn, this exhibit shares their research efforts with a wider audience and demonstrates how they adapted to a changing learning community.

Below you will see the project description and links to the students' presentations.

Project Description

Step 1

What is exciting to you in dance history? Use this short in class presentation to share your thoughts on it. Here, I want you to share some evidence, photographs and videos, about your topic of interest and let us know why should we care. Create a powerpoint presentation with 3-5 slides to share your elevator pitch. The PowerPoint should not be longer than 3 minutes.

Presentation should have the following components:

Step 2

I need an annotated bibliography with 5 sources: 3 scholarly and 2 online.

Step 3

You need to meet with your communication consultant and reframe your ideas around your research project as you start investigating more about it.  Write a reflection on how your meeting changed your thinking regarding your project? You need to meet at least once before April 26, when your report is due.

Step 4

The research proposal should convey your interest in your area. It should tell us what other scholars are thinking in that field. It should also tell its your research questions, methodology, and theoretical frameworks. Finally, it should tell us your thesis statement.

Answer each of the following questions. Compose them in a word-processing software and submit your document to the dropbox.

Step 5

You will write an abstract for your presentation in class in a workshop activity. The final abstract will be due on April 19

Step 6

Final Presentation

List of Steps for Research Project PDF


Lea Rose Allbaugh

Effects of the Postmodern Era on Contemporary Dance 


Rachel Bierly

Effects of Minstrelsy


Alyssa Faustin 

Martha Graham 

Alexis Logan

Bill Bojangles Robinson: An Icon of Early Tap 

Kayley McLamb

Impact of Jacob's Pillow 

Dani Tyson

Pioneer to Black Voices: Pearl Primus and Strange Fruit 

Effects of Minstrelsy in Race Theory

Final Project by Rachel Bierly

Martha Graham

Final Project by Alyssa Faustin

The Impact of Jacob's Pillow

Final Project by Kayley McLamb

The Effects of the Postmodern Era on Contemporary Dance

Final Project by Lea Rose Allbaugh