Designing and performing non-binary dance

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Wiley, Kendra Suzanne

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Concert dance performance has historically encouraged conformity to strict male and female presentations, or styles of dance that ignore and erase the gender identity of the performers. While modern dance and contemporary choreographers have expanded the vocabulary of dance in exciting ways, a rigid gender binary persists in much of dance today. Non-binary dance is a method of challenging gender norms within the dance world; a way for non-binary people to authentically represent themselves and claim agency through dance performance. This thesis documents the process of creating an auto-ethnographic research-based non-binary dance performance, ERROR 404: Gender Not Found (a non-binary dance), which emphasizes the intentional presence of my non-binary dancing body using choreography, text, interactive technology, and design in order to foreground non-binary representation. The performance also demonstrates the possibility of simultaneously filling the roles of both dance performer and lighting designer, as I use my body throughout to manipulate video game movement tracking technology and remote lighting control. A significant goal of the performance is to make the non-binary narrative relatable to cisgender, transgender, and non-binary audience members. Following the performance, members of the audience with various gender identities make contributions to a survey to express if and how they relate to the performance.


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