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Dancing the difference

Women s Studies International Forum
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0277-5395(96)00044-1


Abstract This article has its basis in a previous paper (Thomas, 1993) that emerged from a 9-month study of a youth and community dance group in South East London and examined certain aspects of the relations between dance and femininity by coding and anyalysing one-to-one interview transcripts. Although the context of the discussion is the same (i.e., the youth and community dance group), the proposed paper will draw on additional material that generated other considerations. Namely, a filmed and recorded group interview with the dancers that provided illuminating talk about how the dancers themselves perceived of differences between women and men dancing and between typical attitudes toward Black women dancers and Black men dancers. This article will draw attention to the importance of considering the relations between gender and race, which the initial paper alluded to, but could not address. The concern will be to locate the different images, female/male, Black/White, that the dancers themselves invoked in terms of traditional and pervasive western images of Black sexuality, particularly in this instance with regard to female sexuality. The value of ethnography as a method and the use of group interviews as analytic tools for feminist analysis will be considered. Moreover, the use of video in dance research will be critically assessed.

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