Conducting Oneself: Choreographing Bodies and Identities on and off the Podium

Music Studies/Dance Studies/Performance Studies/Cultural Studies

The research partner(s) working with me will assist me on a book project that examines how the bodies, identities, and repertoire of orchestra conductors produce, legitimate, and limit their movements on the podium and off, from conservatories to coveted positions. Drawing on movement analysis, oral history, and affect theory, we will explore how conductors visibly embody their empathy with scores while simultaneously projecting expertise and power. This balancing act has historically belonged to the maestro, a title that encapsulates the Eurocentric and patriarchal culture of classical music. Focusing on the bodies and identities (gender, sexuality, race, and disability) of conductors that challenge the maestro stereotype, the book will chart both the exclusionary politics and increasing desire for diversity in classical music and the pipeline to the podium.

My research partner(s) would ideally be knowledgeable and passionate about:

  • music, especially classical orchestral music;
  • the movement/choreography of musicians, and movement/dance generally;
  • the power of performers/performance;
  • the relationship between an artist’s identities (gender, sexuality, race, disability) and their career.

Possible areas of research assistance include:

  • collecting/watching/analyzing video of conductors;
  • collecting/reading/interpreting reviews of conductors;
  • reading/annotating/summarizing secondary literature;
  • collecting/photographing archival materials;
  • preparing musical examples (ideally in Finale) and video examples;
  • transcribing/assisting with interviews of conductors, musicians, and audience members.

Research partners will develop familiarity with existing methodologies in music, dance, performance, and cultural studies, in addition to imagining new ways to think about the relationship between musicians, their bodies/movements, and power.