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Dance 461: Dance History from 1900: Research Help

Doing Dance Research

1. Locate background information.

            - use encyclopedia articles to find keywords (terminology, words for narrowing topic, important scholars) and citations to other materials.

2. Develop and narrow your topic; form an issue or research question.

3. Find research materials you may use in your paper.

            - books, journal articles

4. Evaluate and select materials that you will use in your paper.

5. Write draft, cite sources, and write final paper.

            - use an approved citation format, and consult style manuals as needed.

            - begin writing early.

Choosing a Topic

You may choose a topic with a specific style of dance in mind, such as ballet or ballroom; a specific technique, such as en pointe in ballet, or gancho in tango; a specific person, such as Christopher d'Amboise or Twyla Tharp; a specific place (city, state, country); or a specific time period. 

Combining techniques and styles with a particular place or period of time is an effective way to develop a more complex research question. (Example: What are some differences between the way the tango is danced in Argentina, where it developed, and here in the United States?)

You might also want to look at an aspect of health, culture or education and make connections to dance. (Example: How does motherhood impact the career of ballet dancers?)

Examples of styles and techniques: (See more extensive list here.)

  • aplomb (ballet)
  • enpointe (ballet)
  • bourree (ballet)
  • Guapacha timing (ballroom)
  • Promenade position (ballroom)
  • Headspin (hip-hop)
  • The worm (hip-hop)
  • jazz piroutte (turn)
  • grand jete (leap)

Examples of forms and genres: 

  • Jig
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Disco
  • Ballroom
  • Electonica
  • Hip-hop
  • Ballet
  • Tap
  • Modern

 Examples of periods and styles:

  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque
  • English Regency
  • Polka craze (mid 19th century)
  • Ragtime
  • Roaring twenties
  • Swing (30's and 40's)
  • Contemporary
  • Street

Primary Research

If you are interested in researching historical dances from primary sources, Professor Richard Powers of Stanford University offers helpful suggestions here.

Get Help

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