Call for Contributions for Dance Studies: Critical Glossaries a Multi-Volume Anthology

Due April 01, 2021

We are excited to share this Call for Contributions for a multi-volume anthology project on dance studies in development for Oxford University Press (subject to contract), co-edited by Anurima Banerji (UCLA, USA), Jasmine Johnson (University of Pennsylvania, USA), and Royona Mitra (Brunel University London, UK).

We invite contributions from scholars, artists and educators that respond to the project description below in the form of academic chapters (6-8000 words), provocations (1-2000 words), creative interventions (in an appropriate print format) with an accompanying 500-word critical commentary, interviews or conversations (6-8000 words) and other formats negotiated with us as editors.

We are particularly keen to receive proposals from artists, educators and scholars located and working in the Global South.

We invite you to submit a 250-word abstract that responds to the project description below and clearly identifies which keyword you wish to work with, and therefore which volume you wish to contribute to. Please also include a 150 word biography and email both the abstract and the biography to: by 1 April 2021.


Abstract Submission Deadline: 1 April 2021.

Abstract Acceptance Deadline: 1 July 2021

OUP Proposal Submission Deadline: 1 October 2021

Please note that the deadlines below are contingent on successful procurement of a book contract with OUP and are thus subject to change.


First Draft Deadline: 1 April 2022

Editorial Comments Deadline: 1 September 2022 – 1 January 2023

Second Draft Deadline: 1 January 2023 – 1 April 2023

Complete Manuscript Submission Deadline for all Four Volumes: 1 September 2023

Publication Deadline for all Four Volumes: 1 September 2024



Dance Studies: Critical Glossaries

In this endeavor, we propose the idea of the “glossary,” imaginatively reconstituted, as an organizing framework for a multi-volume anthology on dance studies. While we know what a glossary is, this project is invested in asking the question: what can a glossary do for the field of dance studies in order to foreground both the pluralisms that constitute our field, and examine the power structures that have kept them at bay in order to keep dominant discourses in circulation?

A glossary is a clavis: a key to a cipher. A glossary enunciates, explains, and elaborates; it provides a vocabulary for entry into a particular domain of knowledge by identifying the specialized terms associated with it, delineating their uses and applications. In a glossary words are generally organized in alphabetical order for easy detection and reference. While it customarily "glosses" the words by providing an anchoring definition, our volume proposes a critical approach to the glossary that will allow deep and diverse meditations on concepts undergirding dance studies. This project then is driven by the following questions: How can we expand the principles and philosophies of our current dance discourses? What can querying keywords in the field of dance studies reveal about the relationships between different oppressive structures that are foundational to our field and the languages, discourses and epistemic frameworks that have dominated the field? And how might we re-organize the conceptual alphabet to make new grammars rooted in anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-oppressive moorings?

Playing on these ideations,* we arrange the volumes according to eight major keywords in English that presume to serve as a lexical foundation for our discipline, paired in dialogue with each other: dance and corporeality, choreography and authorship, technique and training, and genre and style. Far from being self-evident or monolithic in their meaning, each word is globally contested. We seek contributions that illuminate the precise and nuanced principles that operate in different communities, geographies, and cultures of movement discourse and practice. As such we are committed to exploring the various genealogies and trajectories of these keywords.

This project speaks to the importance of drawing out pluralistic forms and calling out exhausted language reigning in our discourses. It wishes to question the conceptual containers (embodied as single terms) that flatten and muffle otherwise polychromatic meanings. This might depend on the need to provincialize these keywords in order to move toward more heterogeneous definitions and uses. We point to concepts that are in heavy circulation to give breath to the pluralisms that those terms have historically shrunk, tending to common terminology that rarely holds contradiction and complexity. Dance, corporeality, choreography, authorship, technique, training, genre and style are not transhistorical, transtemporal or geographically agile terms.

What then are their limits and possibilities? Can they be reinvigorated? Can they be displaced by other prisms of knowledge-systems?

To bring our conceptual vision to fruition we plan to solicit multiple essays for each keyword and juxtapose them in the effort to demonstrate the wide contours and borders of each definition, its specific usages and applications, its iridescence and heterogeneities. To pluralize is to (make) trouble. Authors will be invited to ponder the significations of these categories--prise them open, provincialize them, decenter them, deconstruct them, recast them, repudiate them, all in service of developing a complex investigation of these terms in an international perspective, recognizing that even within nations competing meanings and significances proliferate. In this, we want to create a new alphabet for the field, designed to expand the work of interpretation and also acknowledge the limits of cross-cultural transpositions, centering difference and dissensus. 

At the heart of this project is the spirit of coalitional solidarity-building between and across positionalities, geographies, cultures, nations, locales and communities.


We envision this project as an anthology of four volumes, each dedicated to one of the four pairings as described above.

Volume 1: Dance and Corporeality

This first volume is premised on critically examining the "dance" concept and asks what it signifies across different cultural frames.

Dance: We begin with an investigation of the concept of “dance” as the foundational term governing our field. Starting with the assumption that “dance” has no fundamental unity of meaning transhistorically or transnationally, we seek contributions that consider the diverse and even competing ideas attached to the term. The development of “dance” as a discrete category may have involved a complex history, or it may reside in a particular geography, style, or discourse in evident plenitude. We want the contributions to consider these following questions as points of departure: How is “dance” understood in different global frameworks? Is it understood as an autonomous praxis, or as part of a spectrum of kindred expressions? What are the generative possibilities and the limiting scopes mobilised by the term? Where and why does dance happen?

Corporeality: Attention to “corporeality” yields an understanding of bodies as historically, culturally, and politically situated entities, countering notions that essentialize them as self-evidently natural or biological constructs. We ask contributors to reflect on these possible queries: What are the reigning philosophies of bodies in different dance contexts? How are notions of ideal bodies produced in variegated dance practices? How are bodily sensibilities and sense-perceptions cultivated in cross-cultural circumstances? How can we think about the production of bodies and bodily values in multiple dance milieux? How are dancing bodies produced in discourse, technique, practice, and their conjugations in different historical and cultural spaces? We also invite considerations of corporealities beyond the human, or interactions between human/nonhuman elements envisioned as part of dance performances.

Volume 2: Choreography and Authorship

Volume two explores the terms "choreography" and "authorship" as interrogatives, rather than lucidities. We pair these two intimately connected terms to put pressure on issues around production, citation, credit, and property in dance studies. This volume invites contributions that simultaneously pluralize and provincialize the term “choreography”, dislodging it from established Global North discourses in favour of multitudinous ways in which dance is and has been made across geographies, communities, nations, histories and cultural contexts.

Choreography: Central to this volume is the urge to expand and explode dance studies’ sometimes narrow, limiting and Global North-led formulations on what constitutes “choreography” in order to consider the multitudinous ways in which different geographies, cultures and histories make, share and transmit dance. How might we situate the multifarious meanings of “choreographer” and practices of choreography? We invite contributors to consider the following questions: how can “choreography” as a concept and practice be historicized to a particular set of values and aesthetics? Is it a helpful framework through which to consider dance-making and dance-sharing in different geographical, cultural and historical contexts? What equivalent terms from other lexicons and languages might help us to expand and nuance the ways in which dominant understandings of “choreography” proliferate in dance studies?

 Authorship: In dance studies authorship is a critical keyword; from the making of danced, choreographed work to the making of publications, authorship conjures the persons and processes that render projects and materialize ideas. We acknowledge that authorship indexes questions around credit, communal property and individual signature. Additionally we recognize its attachment to prevailing notions of originality, genius, and creative exceptionalism. Thus we invite contributions that explore the politics, practices and possibilities of authoring/choreographing. When is “author” synonymous with “choreographer”, we ask, and how are they importantly differentiated? How might the single voice/body (which is privileged in Global North-led academic and performance institutions) already be plural and polyvocal? What is the relationship between authorship and collaboration? How might the latter hold out an imperfect capacity for de-centered partnership, visioning, and communion?

 Volume 3: Technique and Training

 Volume three turns its focus to “technique” and “training”, inviting contributions to examine dominant understandings of these terms within dance studies, in order to mobilise competing and parallel meanings, resonances and manifestations. Normative mobilisations of these terms are more often than not understood in relation to physical dancing bodies only. But what of the “technique” and “training” that pertains to the intellectual, the methodological and the critical nurturing of dance scholars in our field? How can a more critically embodied take on these terms expand our understandings of them? This volume then invites contributors to extend preconceived attachments of these terms with physical bodies in dance practice, towards considering their critical manifestations within the intellectual domains of dance studies.  

 Technique: Global North formulations have led dance studies to consider technique as the cultivation of bodily prowess through the mastery of aesthetic vocabularies that are honed through practice. To extend discourses beyond these parameters this volume opens up questions such as: What might be the ways in which technique produces subjects and communities? What can a critical and both expansive and specialised view of “technique” make us learn about the acquisition and mastery of movement languages? Can we argue for “technique” as not just physical but also sociological, ideological and moral disciplinarian tools?

 Training: The term “training” signals the pedagogic dimensions of how languages can be learned through sustained programmes of study. Dominant circulations of the term “training” within dance studies understand it as ongoing processes of discipline to achieve such mastery. We invite contributions that critically appraise and expand on these prevalent ways of thinking about training. We ask if it is possible to think about training as more than the teaching and learning of movement languages through immersive practice. What are the goals of particular training systems?  How are training programmes conceived and delivered? What are the procedures of training, and how are they learnt and communicated in a given dance context? What are the determinants of virtuosity or arrival within a specific dance form?

 Taken together this volume holistically considers: when are “technique” and “training” in dance studies potential pathways to liberation? And when are they not?

Volume 4: Genre and Style

This volume probes the genealogies, constructions, forms, contents, and ideologies associated with the genres and styles that populate the field of dance studies.

 A genre customarily represents an aesthetic category marked by standard conventions and features, its definitions bolstered by authority or consensus within the relevant community of arts specialists; in this sense, the formation of a genre is attached to questions of social power as much as artistic form and value. The concept of "style" in dance often twins and blurs with "genre" insofar as it refers to the quality of artistic distinctiveness--the unique traits and characteristics linked to a given idiom. An examination of genre and style further entails thinking through notions of aesthetic valuation and hierarchy, as well as cultural taxonomies and boundaries. Reigning examples of genres and styles addressed in current dance discourse include the classical, the traditional, the modern, the postmodern, the contemporary, the social, the popular, the ritual, and the folk, among a litany of others. Several others may be identified with the spaces and venues of their performances-- street dance, court dance, screen dance, digital dance. Certain dance forms, too, may be viewed as genres of their own, with proliferate styles, schools, and expressions nestled within their rubrics.

How can we critically reflect on the formation of these classes of dance? What are their contours, whether fragile or fixed? What are their components? How do they appear as legitimate or illegitimate, and according to whom? What is the relationship between social power structures and artistic values placed on dance forms? What other kinds of aesthetic designations exist across the field, other than those that hold currency now? What are the politics of naming styles and genres? What are the norms and protocols associated with particular forms? What does it mean to claim an identification or attachment with a given dance type? How are diverse genres and styles invigorated or exhausted? Additionally, we invite authors to consider meta-questions like: Why do we organize dances into genres? What is the utility, futility, or significance of doing so? What might be the differences or commonalities between various genres and styles, and how are their borders negotiated and determined, reified and regulated, remade and resisted? And more...

*Footnote: We gesture towards the work of Raymond Williams (Keywords), Philip Auslander (editor of Performance; Critical Concepts), Tisa Bryant (editor of the Encyclopedia project) as conceptual inspirations for our work. We acknowledge the volumes Dance Discourses: Keywords in Dance Research (edited by Susanne Franco and Marina Nordera) and the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics (edited by Rebecca Kowal, Gerald Siegmund, and Randy Martin) for providing generative insights into the prevailing methods and vocabularies of our field, and to signal the place of this project in a wider intellectual genealogy. We recognize a two-part panel organized by Susan Manning for the 2014 SDHS & CORD annual conference (hosted by the University of Iowa), and Avanthi Meduri’s paper "Bodyscapes in World 'Dance' Traditions" at TaPRA’s 2016 annual conference at the University of Bristol, as an event and a conference paper respectively that explored keywords in Dance Studies. We note too that our thinking is a continuation of the methodological framings of the two DSA gatherings curated by Anurima Banerji and Royona Mitra titled ‘Decolonizing Dance Discourses’ at Northwestern University in 2019, the proceedings of which appeared in Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies, 2020, vol. XL.