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Clare Croft

Assistant Professor of Dance

Clare Croft is a historian, theorist, and dramaturg, working at the intersection of dance studies and performance studies. She specializes in 20th and 21st century American dance, cultural policy, feminist and queer theory, and critical race theory. In all of these areas, Croft considers how dance is a way of thinking and a mode for asking questions. What does it mean to acknowledge that people have bodies and that they use their bodies to make meaning, create community, and critique social structures?

Croft's current book project, Funding Footprints: Dance and American Diplomacy (Oxford University Press), examines the history of U.S. State Department funding of international dance tours. Croft's approach to writing dance history emphasizes the role of dancers in performance, asking how history might look differently if dancers, audiences, and choreographers were seen as equal partners in the creation of meaning in dance. Croft is also editing the anthology Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance, which brings together artists and print scholars in a written volume of essays and manifestos, as well as a Website of performances, documented in Michigan's Duderstadt Video Studio. 

Croft's writing about dance has appeared in Dance Research Journal, Theatre Journal, and Theatre Topics, and is forthcoming in Dance Chronicle. From 2002-2005, Croft was a regular contributor to The Washington Post, and from 2005-2010, she covered dance, as well as theatre and musical theatre, for the Austin American-Statesman. Her performance criticism has appeared in other popular press venues, including The Baltimore Sun, Dance Magazine, and The Houston Chronicle.

Croft is also an active dramaturg, having collaborated with choreographers including Thomas DeFrantz, Rachel Murray, and Andee Scott. She is also a frequent collaborator with Ann Arbor arts presenter, University Musical Society (UMS). In 2013-14, Croft will be a leader in audience engagement programs funded by Dance/USA, including Dance Club and Night School.

Croft has served on the Board of Directors of the international dance studies organization, Congress on Research in Dance (CORD). From 2002-2005, Croft worked in the Dance and Media programs of the National Endowment for the Arts and has since served on a number of national arts grant selection panels.

At the University of Michigan, Croft teaches courses in the BFA and MFA dance programs, as well as in the BFA interarts program. Her courses include Approaches to Dance Dramaturgy, Dancing Women/Dancing Queer, Fantasies and Anxieties of Racial Integration in 20th Century American Performance, Problematizing Theory and Practice, and Reading and Writing Dance Criticism. She also has a keen interest in helping students develop as choreographers and dramaturgs.

In 2010, Croft's article, "Ballet Nations: The New York City Ballet's 1962 U.S. State Department-Sponsored Tour of the Soviet Union," received the American Society of Theatre Research's Biennial Sally Banes Publication Prize, which recognizes the publication that best explores the intersections of theatre and dance/movement. Croft was also the 2007 recipient of the Society of Dance History Scholar's Selma Jeanne Cohen Award.

Croft holds a PhD in theatre history and criticism with an emphasis in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas-Austin and an MA in performance studies from New York University. From 2010-2013, Croft was a postdoctoral scholar in the University of Michigan's Society of Fellows.

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