Popular, Social and Vernacular Dance


Chair: Seeking a chair

Comprises members with either a teaching, research, or personal interest in dance products and practices that exist in popular, social and vernacular contexts.

The Working Group on Popular, Social and Vernacular Dance comprises members of the Dance Studies Association with either a teaching, research, or personal interest in dance products and practices that exist in popular, social and vernacular contexts. In recognition of the complexity and ambiguity of those labels, the Working Group does not seek to be overly prescriptive about the dances that may be situated within those broad categories. Therefore it can include dances that are located on screen, stage, and “street,” participants and performers that range from amateurs through to professionals, dances that demand different skill levels, and that are financed through a variety of economic frameworks.

The Working Group has two main strands of activity: the first seeks to raise scholarly dialogue concerning popular, social and vernacular dance; the second aims to create initiatives for the study of popular, social and vernacular dance.

In relation to the first strand of activity, the following key issues form a starting point for debate within the Working Group:

  • Definitions - How do we employ and problematize the labels “popular,” “social,” and “vernacular” in categorizing particular dance practices?
  • Performance - How do we deal with issues of performance, choreography, aesthetics, genre and style with regards to “improvised social dance”?
  • History - How do we historicize dance practices that are dynamic in form due to the privileging of innovation and modification by their participants?
  • Value and pleasure - How do we theorize the complex issues of value and pleasure in relation to dance practices that are frequently associated with “leisure” and “entertainment”?
  • Theory and Methodology - What are some of the theoretical and methodological approaches that lend themselves well to the study of popular, social, and vernacular dance practices?

In relation to the second strand of activity, the Working Group seeks to look at ways of promoting the study of and research in popular, social, and vernacular dance by the scholarly community and the student body. We therefore aim to identify opportunities to forge links with other groups working in similar areas, and to develop initiatives for promoting research in popular, social, and vernacular dance forms.