Degree Name





Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Michael R. Cope

First Faculty Reader

Jane L. Lopez

Second Faculty Reader

Carol J. Ward

Honors Coordinator

Michael R. Cope


Step Dance, African American Dance, Contradictory Selves, Racial and Ethnic Identity, Dance and Identity


Identity is a constantly shifting performance of self, occasionally complicated when outward appearance of the self-performer doesn’t match the manner (behavior). This contradictory performance of self is most obvious when connected to a racial group identity, such as in dance leisure spaces. However, previous research on identity performance and critical race studies in dance leisure spaces has not investigated contradictory identities. As a participant-researcher in a black dance space at a predominantly white institution (PWI), the BYU Step Team, I investigated how non-black participants navigate contradictory identities. Using a dramaturgical perspective to analyze individual identity performance and a critical race perspective to understand the context within which the group identity is performed, I utilize ethnographic techniques to investigate contradictory identities. Although support for creating a black space within a predominantly white institution is meaningful to the students involved, institutional structures also perpetuate the history of white symbolic power and violence. Non-black students experiencing contradictory identities attempt to mitigate these experiences through spatial awareness, embodying movement, and engaging in “oneness.”


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