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Whiteness and the Performance of Race in American Ballroom Dance

From: Journal of American Folklore
Volume 120, Number 475, Winter 2007
pp. 19-47 | 10.1353/jaf.2007.0002


Based on ethnographic fieldwork with predominantly white, middle-class, American ballroom dancers, this article discusses the ballroom as a site where problematic constructions of whiteness and otherness are embodied in performance. Through the genre classifications of "modern" and "Latin," whiteness is made universal and normative while the racial other is made particular and exotic, physical and sexual. The article argues that both dance classifications are manifestations of whiteness, mirrored reflections of one another that help to define whiteness by making invisible what whiteness is and explicitly pronouncing what whiteness is not.