The cool stuff!: gender, dance and masculinity

Helen Clegg, Helen Owton, Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Within the dance world, gender (as a binary concept) appears to be central to lived experience. Whilst dance is known as a feminine activity, males tend to be even more in the minority in more ‘feminised’ genres, such as ballet. However, in other genres, such as street dance, which allows them to conform to a more traditionally masculine identity, they are in the majority. Regardless of genre, however, males are more often found in positions of power within the dance-performer’s world compared to their female counterparts. Dance teachers clearly have an important role to play in dance students’ perceptions of gendered (in)equalities within the dance world, where the majority of dance teachers are female. To date, however, their perceptions have been under-researched. To address this research gap, 10 female professional dance teachers, ranging in age from 24 to 71 years, were interviewed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis through the theoretical lens of symbolic interactionism. Two salient themes were identified: coolness and masculinity, and male privilege. Participants perceived that gender inequalities did exist within dance genres and in the opportunities afforded to male and female dancers. These inequalities appeared to lead to a greater valorisation of male dancers in terms of physical and psychological characteristics. The perceptions of female dance teachers in general are important in relation to the socialisation of future dance professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-16
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Women's Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2016


  • Dance
  • gender
  • thematic analysis
  • dance-teachers
  • masculinity
  • femininity


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