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«ADOLESCENT MALE DANCERS’ EMBODIED REALITIES by Zihao Li A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements For the degree of Doctor of ...»

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ADOLESCENT MALE DANCERS’ EMBODIED REALITIES

by

Zihao Li

A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the

University of Toronto

© Copyright by Zihao Li, 2010

ADOLESCENT MALE DANCERS’ EMBODIED REALITIES

Doctor of Philosophy, 2010

Zihao Li

Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning University of Toronto Abstract This dissertation looks at adolescent male dance students who challenge the dominant perceptions of masculinity by participating in dance, an art form which has been subjected to feminine and homosexual stereotypes.

With a multi-methodological approach—qualitative, arts-informed, autobiography, interviews, videotape, and performance—this research investigates and explores the largely unknown realities regarding adolescent male dance students; why they decide to take dance; what makes them continue or stop dancing; how their perceptions of dance are transformed over time; how they feel when they are dancing; the realities they embody in studio and on stage; their message to the public about who they were, who they are, and what they want to be in and through dance.

The researcher challenges the socially constructed epistemology that dance is merely an entertainment while exploring the relationship between mind and body;

gender, race, and identity; literature and literacy; physical education and dance; the professional and the novice; the hows and the whys; female and male dance educators;

dance pedagogy (theory) and curriculum delivering (practice); and the association of homosexuality and heterosexuality in the context of dance and its effect on adolescent male students’ willingness to dance.

ii This study shows that families, friends, teachers, school administrators, dance class environment, media (So You Think You Can Dance), and technology (internet) have all created various levels of impact on adolescent males’ decision to participate in dance at a high school. Data and implication from this research can serve as a catalyst for future studies on adolescent male dance students. Findings can also be applied to dance programs at all levels, curriculum development, and teacher education. This electronic dissertation encompasses graphs, photos, audio and video clips, webpage links, and even a full-length documentary movie to enhance the research finding and maximize the power of a multimodal design (Jewitt & Kress, 2003).

–  –  –

This dissertation is the realization of a dream. Its completion is the culmination and celebration of passion, desire, contemplation, perseverance, and solitude. Whenever I work on this dissertation I am struck by the many people who have touched my life.

Some appear on this page while others are kept in my heart. Although these acknowledgements recognize specific people, they are by no means comprehensive.

There are many others who have given me their friendship and support. Please remember that you are always in my heart and I gratefully recognize your contribution to my journey.

Linda Cameron and Lee Bartel, my thesis supervisors, my academic mentors, my extended family, were the ones who showed me the path, and who guided me throughout this journey. You helped me to envision the landscape, find my voice, and you gave me the strength and the courage to forge through uncharted territory. Your generosity and heart-felt love will be forever in my memory.

Mary Jane Warner, my advisor, my role model, my forever friend. You shone light on my life when it was dark, guided me with a direction when I was lost, encouraged me when I needed it most, recognized my potential when few did, and celebrated my triumph whenever you could. You are the most loving, caring, observing, and supporting person I have ever encountered.

David Booth, my advisor and my friend, encouraged me to begin the writing journey by sharing his stories. You helped me make the connections and build the bridge between theory and practice. Thank you for your witty sense of humor which gave me the means to escape when the journey became intense. Your presence and advice on my work are highly valued and appreciated.

iv Ann Kipling Brown, my advisor, agreed to sit on my committee without any hesitation. Thank you for your time, thoughts, encouragement, and spirit which made my journey a celebration of joy, accomplishment, and self-actualization.

Heather Sykes, my comprehensive examiner, offered valuable recommendations to broaden my understanding of masculinity and male dancers. You raised tough questions and challenged me as an intellectual. I am grateful for having you in my journey.

Wendy Chan and Stan Vittoz, my parents-in-law, offered generous support throughout my journey. Thank you for being my role model of strength, determination, and love. Your journey provided me with the encouragement I needed to proceed.

Yushan Li and Meidi Xu, my parents created a huge impact on my work ethic since I was young. Thank you for your strict rules and unselfish love which makes me a strong, determined, and hardworking individual. I will always remember what you said “you get what you paid for.” I would also extend my appreciation to Ruben Gaztambide-Fernández, Ardra Cole, Kimberly Bezaire, Indrani Margolin, and other CTL students and staff members for helping me navigate and transform any scattered thoughts into concrete ideas throughout my journey at OISE, University of Toronto. Thank you for being with me.





I would give thanks to Sally Erling, Barrie Sketchley, Jane Deluzio, Maryanne Marsh, and other teachers and administrators at the Toronto District School Board for supporting and trusting me in conducting such research. Your permission is the initial driving force behind this finished product.

In addition, I would like to thank all of the adolescent male dance students who took part in this study. Thank you for your time, for sharing your thoughts, opinions, stories, and recommendations which raise the much needed academic and practical

–  –  –

ABSTRACT

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF FIGURES

TABLE OF MEDIA

APPENDICES

CHAPTER ONE: I AM A DANCER, A MALE DANCER

A GLIMPSE INTO THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ONE MALE DANCER................ 2 THEN

NOW

RATIONALE

RESEARCH QUESTION

What is it like to be an adolescent male dance student in today’s school?............... 10 RESEARCH BENEFIT

Thesis map

CHAPTER TWO: UNDERSTANDING DANCE

DANCE

Definition of dance

Dance and its relevance to life

Dance, movements, and meanings

Dance is a literacy

Dance and self

EMBODIMENT

Mind and body

Embodied realities

GENDER

Definition of gender

Gender in dance

vii Gender imbalance in dance

Homosexuality (dance?) and heterosexuality (sport?)

MALE DANCERS

Ted Shawn/established male dancers

Research on other male dancers

Male dancers’ identity

Research on adolescent male dance students

DANCE EDUCATION

Dance in schools

Dance curriculum

Dance and physical education

Dance is beyond physical education

Gender imbalance in dance education

How and why

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Ethnography

Teacher research

Teacher as researcher

Autobiography and self-reflection

The arts dimension in research

Performance

The Video Documentary

RESEARCH DESIGN

School selection - Rosedale Heights School of the Arts

Class selection – choosing male dance students

Subject selection – criteria

Process

Permission

DATA COLLECTION METHODS

viii One-on-one interviews with students

One-on-one interview with parents

Videotaping – ensuring the rights of participants

Assignments

Dancer and me assignment

The web-blog

GUIDELINE

CHAPTER FOUR: VIDEO DOCUMENTARY ON ADOLESCENT MALE

DANCE STUDENTS

CHAPTER FIVE: DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

ETHNICITY

FAMILY

FAMILY TIES TO THE ARTS

FRIENDS’ TIES TO THE ARTS

THOUGHTS ON DANCE

WHY DANCING?

SOURCE OF INFLUENCE FOR BOYS TO TAKE DANCE

Individual

School staff

Family and friends

FAMILY VIEWS ON DANCE

FRIENDS’ VIEWS ON DANCE

Partial acceptance

Full acceptance

Self-acceptance

Beyond acceptance – role model

SOCIAL REPERCUSSION

DANCER & ME

Bruce – 2007

Bruce – 2008

Michael

ix David

Jim

George

Tom

Alan

Kyle

FIRST DANCE EXPERIENCE

Elementary

Secondary

Family

Pre-elementary

WHAT MAKES BOYS CONTINUE DANCING OR STOP TAKING DANCE..... 117 Physical

Mental

Not to dance

EVOLUTION IN DANCE

Eager to learn

Cause and effect

DANCE CLASS

Mixed-gender dance classes

All-boys dance class – dance studio

All-boys dance class - gym

The smell

CHALLENGE IN DANCE

Internal challenge

External challenge

DANCE AND FUTURE

Health

Hobby

Posture

DANCE AS A PROFESSION

x Dance as a career option

Dance not as a career option

Perplexed

Denial

PUBLIC

TO DANCE OR NOT TO DANCE IN PUBLIC

Junior dance students

Senior dance students

VIEWS ON DANCE FROM THE PUBLIC

STEREOTYPES

Stereotypes of male dancers in public

Stereotypes of male dancers are dissolving

Attitude transformation

Idol power

ADVANTAGE

MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY

Expansion

Normalization

Promotion

Creation of stronger bias

DANCE ASSIGNMENT

Performance

Dancer and Me

Choreography

DANCING ON STAGE

Freshmen

Connecting or bridging

Self-actualized performers

MESSAGE TO OTHERS

More means less

MALE AND FEMALE DANCE TEACHERS

xi Male dance teachers–junior dance students

Male dance teachers–senior dance students

CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED

Race

Family, friends, and school

Three stages in dance

Dance and physical education

Media impact

Three different types of dance classes

Gender and dance pedagogy

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE

Curriculum-focus interpretation and modification

Visual images (male dancers)

Curriculum development (workshops, conference)

Resources (videotape, DVD, website)

RECOMMENDATION

Parents

Dance teachers and school administrators

Male dance students

Communication and theory vs. practice

LIMITATION AND FUTURE RESEARCH

CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

APPENDICES

xii Table of Figures

FIGURE 1. ROSEDALE HEIGHTS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS ENROLLMENT 2005FIGURE 2.

GENDER BREAKDOWN 2004-2009

FIGURE 3. DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS

FIGURE 4. ETHNICITY

FIGURE 5. FAMILY STRUCTURES

FIGURE 6. MALE DANCE STUDENTS’ THOUGHTS ON DANCE

FIGURE 7. REASONS TO TAKE DANCE AT HIGH SCHOOL

FIGURE 8. SOURCE OF INFLUENCE FOR BOYS TO TAKE DANCE

FIGURE 9. FRIENDS VIEW ON DANCE

FIGURE 10. BRUCE’S VISUAL COMPONENT: WHAT AM I DOING? OCTOBER

2007

FIGURE 11: BRUCE’S VISUAL COMPONENT: I AM A MAN IN BALLET.

OCTOBER 2008

FIGURE 12: MICHAEL’S VISUAL IMAGE: GETTING THERE

FIGURE 13: DAVID’S VISUAL IMAGE: I CAN FLY

FIGURE 14: JIM’S RAPPING PERFORMANCE: HEART AND SOUL

FIGURE 15: GEORGE’S VISUAL COMPONENT: VERSATILITY

FIGURE 16: TOM’S VISUAL COMPONENT: UNTITLED (PLAIN IMAGES SCANNED FROM HIS FLIPPING-COMIC BOOK)

FIGURE 17: ALAN’S VISUAL COMPONENT: DADDY AND MOMMY MY

SUPERSTARS

FIGURE 18: KYLE’S VISUAL COMPONENT: BALANCE

FIGURE 19. FIRST DANCE EXPERIENCE–ENVIRONMENT

FIGURE 20. FIRST DANCE EXPERIENCE–TIME

FIGURE 21. CONTINUE OR STOP DANCING

FIGURE 22: JIM’S COMMENTS ON SMELL

FIGURE 23. STEREOTYPES IN DANCE

FIGURE 24. MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY’S IMPACT ON MALE DANCE

STUDENTS

–  –  –

MOVIE TRAILER ON ADOLESCENT MALE DANCE STUDENTS ~ CLICK ON

THE IMAGE OR HERE TO WATCH

VIDEO DOCUMENTARY ON ADOLESCENT MALE DANCE STUDENTS—

SHORT VERSION (10 MINUTES)

VIDEO DOCUMENTARY ON ADOLESCENT MALE DANCE STUDENTS—FULL

VERSION (60 MINUTES)

JIM RAPPING PERFORMANCE: HEART AND SOUL VIDEO CLIP ~ CLICK HERE

TO PLAY

GEORGE’S VISUAL COMPONENT: VERSATILITY—DANCE & ME

ASSIGNMENT VIDEO CLIP ~ CLICK HERE TO PLAY

JIM’S COMMENTS ON SMELL IN DANCE STUDIO: AUDIO CLIP ~ CLICK HERE

TO PLAY

xv Appendices

APPENDIX A-1: SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

APPENDIX A-2: SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT

DANCER & ME

APPENDIX B: SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEW GUIDE (STUDENTS)............. 199 APPENDIX C: LETTER OF INTRODUCTION TO THE PRINCIPAL

OF THE ROSEDALE HEIGHTS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

APPENDIX D: LETTER OF INTRODUCTION TO DANCE TEACHERS................ 205 OF THE ROSEDALE HEIGHTS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

APPENDIX E: LETTER OF INTRODUCTION AND CONSENT TO STUDENTS

AND PARENTS

APPENDIX F: LETTER OF INTRODUCTION AND CONSENT TO STUDENTS AND

PARENTS (FEMALE DANCE STUDENTS IN MIXED-GENDER DANCE CLASSES)



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