Call for Papers: Performance Matters 5.1 (2019), Special Issue on Dance Studies in Canada

Posted by | January 25, 2018 | Uncategorized

Call for Papers: Performance Matters 5.1 (2019), Special Issue on Dance Studies in Canada

Deadline for abstracts: 15 March 2018


In this dance studies special issue, we explore the productive possibilities of backspace. We approach the back in multiple senses: spatial, temporal, aesthetic, and kinesthetic. Back-story, backstage, background, back-work: although it is often hidden from view, the back is dense with cultural and political information. Any sensitive mover understands that even the most apparently frontal movement is supported, if invisibly and unconsciously, by the musculoskeletal infrastructure of the back. The back creates the conditions for the front.


The kinesthetic concept of backspace opens toward an investigation of that which is not, perhaps, immediately evident—blind spots in our performance and dance histories. We seek to enact the potential of dance studies to speak beyond itself, carving out back-routes and other “ways into this country’s history and collective values” (Lindgren 2). Indeed, the politics of the back speak to ongoing and emergent concerns about historical and contemporary relationships of bodies, gestures, and pathways to raced, classed, and gendered vectors of privilege. Consider Rosemarie Roberts’ observations about the racial inequities imbedded in back entrances as “designated space[s] through which Black and Brown ‘help’ could walk” (4), and Laura Levin’s contention that “traditionally, women and other historically marginalized persons (non-white, lower class, queer, etc.) have been relegated to the background” (17).


With this special issue, we seek papers that engage dance studies to approach questions of history, privilege, and kinesthetics “through the back” (Peeters). We invite essays that address and challenge “dance’s short-lived memory and poor sense of history” (Peeters 290). We ask: what does it mean to invest attention in backspace, both materially and metaphorically? How can we learn to sense the ways in which we accumulate and carry all that we leave behind?


Our interest in the mobilization of dance-based knowledges within and with relevance to broader cultural issues is seeded in an awareness of the necessary interdisciplinarity of dance studies in a country where most dance scholars train and work in adjacent disciplines—bringing dance studies in through the proverbial back door. Attendant to the possibilities and limitations of the inter- and intra-disciplinarity of dance-based scholarship within a Canadian context, we invite papers that take up movement histories, contemporary practices and pathways, infrastructural supports, and techniques through the back—an otherwise that is emphatically embodied.


Possible topics include:

  • Blind spots: invisible histories of dance and movement
  • Backgrounded bodies and stories: What can a continuum of sidedness bring to dance theory? (That which is behind becomes that which is beside with a pivot of orientation)
  • Back-up dance(r)s, chorus, corps
  • Back stage and background work, including infrastructural support for dance practice and scholarship
  • Anonymity (from the back), collectivity, particularity
  • Back-stories of dance practice and scholarship in a Turtle Island or Canadian context
  • Background music: the space/place of sound/music in dance analysis


This call seeks a range of possible contribution formats:

  •  ARTICLES: Papers ranging from 7000-9000 words.
  •  MATERIALS: Creative responses including interviews, transcribed conversations, images, video         and/or audio excerpts of performances or rehearsals, physical scores.
  •  FORUM: Responses ranging from 2000-3000 words to the following question about the background conditions of dance practice in Canada: How do you do dance studies? What methodologies do you engage? What do you move with or against?

Abstracts, due March 15, 2018, should be no longer than 300 words and should include a short biography (100 words). Invited contributions will be due to editors by August 2018. Please send your abstract as a Word document to both Alana Gerecke ( and Mary Fogarty (


Works Cited

Ahmed, Sara. “Orientations: Toward a Queer Phenomenology.” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 12.4 (2006): 543-74.

Levin, Laura. Performing Ground: Space, Camouflage, and the Art of Blending In. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Lindgren, Allana C. “‘The Other ‘D’ Keynote Address: Disciplinarity and the Future of Dance in Canadian Universities.” Performance Matters 2.2 (2016): 84-94.

Peeters, Jeroen. Through the Back: Situating Vision Between Moving Bodies. Helsinki: Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts, 2014.

Roberts, Rosemarie A. “Dancing with Social Ghosts: Performing Embodiments, Analyzing Critically.” Transforming Anthropology: Journal of the Association of Black Anthropologists 21.1 (2013): 4-14.

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