Dancing to Transform (Book)

How Concert Dance Becomes Religious in American Christianity

Uses original studies of four dance companies to examine the religious lives of American Christians who are also professional dancers. Explores how practices of dancing and Christianity, and experience and performance contexts influence and shape approaches to creating, transforming and performing dance. 10 b/w illus.

Category: Performing Arts


In response to a scarcity of writings on the intersections between dance and Christianity, Dancing to Transform examines the religious lives of American Christians who, despite the historically tenuous place of dance within Christianity, are also professional dancers. Emily Wright details how these dancing Christians transform what they perceive as secular professional by transforming concert dance into different kinds of religious practices in order to express individual and communal religious identities. Through a multi-site, qualitative study of four professional dance companies, Wright explores how religious and artistic commitments, everyday lived experience and varied performance contexts influence and shape the approaches of Christian professional dancers to creating, transforming and performing dance. Subsequently, this book provides readers with a greater awareness and appreciation for the complex interactions between American Christianity and dance. This study, in turn, delivers audiences a richer, more nuanced picture of the complex histories of these Christian, dancing communities and offers more fruitful readings of their choreographic productions.

Emily Wright is assistant professor of dance at Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. She holds a Ph.D. in dance from Texas Woman's University and an MFA in dance from Arizona State University. She has contributed chapters to the edited volumes Fields in Motion: Ethnography in the Worlds of Dance (2011) and Perspectives in Performing Arts Medicine Practice (2020) and her work has been published in Dance, Movement & Spiritualities and the Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship.


Making Christian Movements: Differentiation and Adaptation in Christianity from the Patristic Era to the Middle Ages

American Christianity from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century

Dancing as American and/or Christian in the Twentieth Century

‘Let Us Praise His Name with Dancing’: Ballet Magnificat! and the Transformation of Concert into Church

Servant Artists: Ad Deum Dance Company and the Transformation of Suffering

Befriending the Both/And: Dishman + Co. Choreography and the Transformation of the Choreographic Process

Dancing Divine Love: Karin Stevens Dance and the Transformation of the Spiritual Journey


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