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Date of Award

Spring 6-16-2021

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Christopher Knaus, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

M. Billye Sankofa Waters, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Victoria Watts, Ph.D.


In the context of racism in the U.S., dancers and choreographers of color are underrepresented in contemporary dance. Critical race theory (CRT) was utilized as the framework to understand the literature, frame interview questions, and interpret the findings. A review of the literature reviews many ways dance institutions and organizations perpetuate racism. Racism is reinforced in dance education, through messages to dancers that they do not belong, and necessitating additional emotional labor to navigate systems. Dance artists of color resist racism by choosing to have a presence in contemporary dance. This study explored the experiences of 13 choreographers of color in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) asking the research question: what are the intersections of dance, identity, and resistance among contemporary dance choreographers of color in the PNW? The participants shared their experiences with racism and resisting through interviews. The findings focused on four themes and a number of subthemes that capture the ways participants experienced racism in the PNW contemporary dance community and chose to resist. The four themes from the research are: ways racism caused participants to experience isolation, ways racism caused participants to experience tokenism, ways participants demonstrated their internal commitment to choreograph, and ways participants are changing the narrative of racism in contemporary dance. Applying a CRT lens to the findings illuminates the permanence of racism, Whiteness as a property right, interest convergence, and the power of counterstories. Implications include reflection on the findings and impacts for individuals and organizations committed to reducing racism for artists of color as well as encouraging joy and healing with artists of color.