“Queer Dance” edited by Clare Croft— The Challenge of Dance

Croft, Clare (editor). “Queer Dance”, Oxford University Press, 2017.

The Challenge of Dance

Amos Lassen

The various ways that people are together have an influence on choreographic practices and help us to imagine the ways groups assemble in more varied ways than just pairing another man with another woman? We can ask, “How might dancing queerly ask us to imagine futures through something other than heterosexuality and reproduction? How does challenging gender binaries always mean thinking about race, thinking about the postcolonial, about ableism? What are the arbitrary rules structuring dance in all its arenas, whether concert and social or commercial and competition, and how do we see those invisible structures and work to disrupt them?”


In “Queer Dance”, Clare Croft brings together artists and scholars in a multi-platformed project-book with an accompanying website, and live performance series that ask just how dancing queerly progressively challenges us. The artists and scholars who have contributed to the book and whose performances and filmed interviews appear online give us a range of genders and sexualities that challenge and destabilize social norms. Through what we read here, we engage with “dance making, dance scholarship, queer studies, and other fields” and we are asked how identities, communities, and making art and scholarly practices might consider what queer work the body does and can do. There is a great deal power in claiming queerness in the press of bodies touching or in the exceeding of the body best measured in sweat and exhaustion. We look at how queerness exists in the realm of affect and touch, and we are led to look at what then might about queerness should come next via the complex bodily ways of knowing.

It is important never to take ‘queer’ or ‘dance’ for granted as stable terms. We become very aware of how the contributors manipulate them to render visible the ways in which “dance is a queer praxis and queerness is a dancing analytic”.

The book goes beyond the currently accepted registers of queerness to bring the subjects it finds into convergence— feminism, race, and queerness, are simultaneously distinct and integrated and this reveals an amplified understanding of queer dance and provides new areas for engagement.