Edited by Jane C. Desmond

book cover portraitThis collection of essays explores the relationship between dancing bodies and sexual identity on the concert stage, in nightclubs, in film, in the courts, and on the streets. From Nijinsky's balletic prowess to Charlie Chaplin's lightfooted "Little Tramp," from lesbian go-go dancers to the swan maidens/men of Swan Lake, from the postmodern works of Bill T. Jones to the dangers of same-sex social dancing at Disneyland and the ecstatic Mardi Gras dance parties of Sydney, Australia, this book tracks the intersections of dance and human sexuality in the twentieth century as the definition of each has shifted and expanded.

The contributors to Dancing Desires come from various fields (literature, history, theater, dance, film studies, legal studies, critical race studies), and they employ methods of study ranging from textual analysis and film theory to ethnography. By embracing dance, and bodily movement more generally, as a crucial focus for investigation, together they initiate a new agenda for tracking the historical kinesthetics of sexuality.

"This break-through volume opens a long overdue discussion of dance and sexuality." – Joan L. Erdman, Columbia College Chicago

"Dancing Desires brings together some of the most influential minds in dance cultural studies. This important book will find an enthusiastic readership among scholars and students of dance studies, performance studies, cultural studies, American studies, and queer studies." – David Róman, University of Southern California

Jane C. Desmond, a modern dancer and choreographer from 1975 to 1990, is now an associate professor of American studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and editor of Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance (Duke University Press, 1997).

Title: Dancing Desires
Editor: Jane C. Desmond
Pub date: July 2001
6 x 9 in., 360 pp., 21 b/w photos
ISBN 0-299-17050-0 (cloth)
ISBN 0-299-17054-3 (paper)

SDHS publications

Studies in Dance History SDHS’s monograph series, published by University of Wisconsin Press, answers a growing demand for works that provide fresh analytical perspectives on dancing, dancers, and dances in a global context. Read more...

[cover of 2015 Conversations] Issued yearly in early spring generally, Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies reflects the dynamic and diverse membership of SDHS. We seek to bring you themes and debates current in the field of dance studies and the profession, alongside news from the international community of scholars in dance and related disciplines. Read more...


Conference 2015, Cut & Paste: Dance Advocacy in the Age of Austerity, a joint SDHS and CORD conference, was held June 4–7, 2015 in Athens, Greece.

For conference presenters, guidelines for the submission of proceedings may be found here.

View photos from the conference

To presenters at the 2015 joint conference with CORD in Athens Greece. Guidelines for submission of conference proceedings may be found here.

SDHS announces this year’s award recipients. Awards will be presented at the SDHS/CORD conference in June.

Dance Chronicle announces Founding Editors’ Awards, honoring Barbara Palfy in 2015. Sponsored by Dance Chronicle and Routledge/Taylor & Francis

Conversations call for contributions: Dancing the African Diaspora. Guest Editors: Takiyah Nur Amin and Thomas F. DeFrantz. Note that the deadline for submissions has again been extended. It is now July 15, 2015.

Updated 8 June: Upcoming events

Updated 15 March: Conference announcements and calls for papers

Updated 23 May: Job postings and opportunities for students

SDHS endorses MLA statement on learning another language

Connect to Amazon.com through this link and a percentage of your purchase will help fund graduate student travel to SDHS conferences.