Miss Karen is in it to win: A performative autoethnography approach to investigating dance competition culture
As a researcher, my goal is to ignite conversations in both the academic discourse of dance and the larger population about dance competition culture, the regional and national events where children and adolescents perform short dances for awards. I investigate dance competition culture both as a scholar and as an artist, and as a former competitive dancer and current postmodern dancer. Through my research, a semi-fictional character, Miss Karen, based on my embodied experiences with dance competition culture emerged. This article unpacks how the development and performance of Miss Karen binds together the creative/performative and scholarly/written aspects of my research. In the case of devising and performing Miss Karen, this involves a performative autoethnography approach situated in physical cultural studies. The use of a performative autoethnography approach, particularly in the project’s creative components that informs and is informed by qualitative research approaches and collaborative interdisciplinary creative practices, fuels both research process and outcomes. The approach is multifaceted and unified; reshapes traditional approaches to dance scholarship and creative practice; and leads to multiple, integrated outcomes.
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