Marymount Manhattan

Department of

Jens Richard Giersdorf

Associate Professor of Dance

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Jens Richard Giersdorf earned a Magister in Theatre, Dance, and Music Theatre Theory from the University of Leipzig/Germany and received his Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside. He taught in the Department of Dance Studies at the University of Surrey/UK and Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. His research focuses on choreographies of nationhood and locality in a global context as well as epistemological investigations in dance studies. He has published in a number of peer-reviewed journals including Dance Research JournalTheatre Journal, GLQ – Gay & Lesbian Quarterly, Forum Modernes Theater, and Maska. His work has been translated and anthologized in the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Serbia, and Germany. His monograph The Body of the People –The University of Wisconsin Press – is the first study on dance in East Germany and the German translation Volkseigene Körper was published by transcript Verlag in 2014. In co-authorship with Gay Morris, Giersdorf is currently editing an anthology on Choreographies of 21st Century Wars forthcoming in Oxford University Press. In his professional affiliations, Giersdorf is a member of the Editorial Boards of the Society of Dance History Scholars and Dancer Research Journal.


His teaching interests include critical European and U.S. American dance history, politics of disciplinary discourses of embodiment and dance education, as well as politics of dance and movement practices. 


Associate Professor of Dance







Ph.D., Dance History & Theory, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA.

Magister, Theater, Dance, and Music Theater History &Theory, Universität Leipzig, Germany.

Recent Work


Volkseigene Körper: Ostdeutscher Tanz seit 1945. Berlin: Transcript Verlag, 2014.

The Body of the People: East German Dance since 1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013. 

Choreographies of 21st Century Wars. Ed. Gay Morris and Jens Richard Giersdorf. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.


Articles in Journals:

Trio A Canonical” Dance Research Journal. 41.2. Winter (2009): 19-24, (peer-reviewed journal).

“Dance Studies in the International Academy: Genealogy of a Disciplinary Formation” Dance Research Journal. 41.1. Summer (2009): 23-44, (peer-reviewed journal).

“The Embodied City: Walking and Writing in the Urban Classroom.” co-authored with Cecilia Feilla and Magdalena Maczynska, Transformation: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy. XIX.1 (2008): 118-137. (peer-reviewed journal).

“Why does Charlotte von Mahlsdorf Curtsy?: Representations of National Queerness in a Transvestite Hero.” GLQ Gay and Lesbian Quarterly 12.2 (2006): 171-96. (peer-reviewed journal).

“Border Crossings and Intra-National Trespasses: East German Bodies in Sasha Waltz’s and Jo Fabian’s Choreographies.” Theater Journal 55.3 (2003): 413-32. (peer-reviewed journal)

“’Hey, I Won’t Let You Destroy My History’: East German Dance Theater and the Politics of Restaging.” Maska, Slovenian Theater and Performance Journal. November 2003. (translated into Slovene)


Articles in Edited Collections:

“Immer hier und selten da: Die Politik der choreografierten Tanztheoretisierung als Zwischenraum” Heterotopien. Perspektiven der Intermedialen Ästhetik, Eds. Nadja Elia-Borer, Constanze Schellow, Nina Schimmel, Bettina Wodianka, Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2013, 575-592.

“Gli ‘studi di danza’ in alcune istituzioni accademiche straniere. Genealogia di una formazione disciplinare,” transl. Patrizia Veroli, La danza tra il pubblico e il privato, ed. Francesca Falcone, Rome: Aracne editrice S.r.l., 2013, 177-204.

“Moving against Disappearance: East German Bodies in Contemporary Choreography” New German Dance Studies, ed. Susan Manning and Lucia Ruprecht, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012, 165-181.

“Tanzwissenschaft in höheren Bildungsinstitutionen: Eine Genealogie der Unterschiede.” Choreographie und Institution: Zeitgenössischer Tanz zwischen Ästhetik, Produktion und Vermittlung. Ed. Yvonne Hardt and Martin Stern, Bielefeld: Transcript, 2011, 161-184.

“Dall’utopia all’archivio. Patricio Bunster e la funzione politica della coreografia” RicordanzeMemoria in movimento e coreografie della storia. Ed. Susanne Franco and Marina Nordera. UTET Libreria, 2010, 361-374. 

“Unpopulärer Tanz als Krise universeller Geschichtsschreibung oder Wie Yutian und ich lang anhaltenden Spaß mit unseriöser Historiographie hatten.” Original and Revival. Ed. Christina Thurner, Zurich: Chronos Verlag, 2010, 91-100. 

“Dance Studies in the International Academy: Genealogy of a Disciplinary Formation.” The Routledge Dance Studies Reader. Ed. Alexandra Carter and Janet O’Shea, London: Routledge, 2010, 319-334.


Invited Speaker:

“Dance, Nationhood, and Theory,” Princeton University, March 2015.

“Not There: Trajal Harrell’s Physicalization of Dance Theoretical Positions,” Stockholm University, November 2014.

Keynote: “Volkseigene Körper oder Warum ich 25 Jahre nach dem Fall der Mauer noch über ostdeutschen Tanz spreche,” Körper/Politik: Tanzformen, Institutionen und Akteure in der DDR, University of Leipzig, November 2014.

“Shifting Agencies of Folk,” Columbia Studies in Dance, Columbia University, October 2014.

“Modernism Revisited,” Dance Studies Colloquium, Temple University, October 2014.

Keynote “Shifting Agencies of Folk Dance,” Folklore-Salon, Tanznacht 2014, Tanzfabrik Berlin, Juli 2014.

Plenary: De-Centering Dance Studies, Congress on Research in Dance and Society of Dance History Scholars Joint Conference 2013, Riverside, CA, November 2013.

“(In)distinct Positions: The Politics of Theorizing Choreography” Re-enactment Conference, University of California, Santa Cruz, January 2013.

“Immer hier und selten da: Die Politik der choreographierten Tanztheoretisierung als Zwischenraum” ProDoc Jahrestagung Heterotopien. Intermediale und interdiskursive Reflexionen, Universities Basel and Bern, Basel, September 2012.

“Dancing Propaganda: Monumentalizing the (Un)Popular” co-presented with Yutian Wong, Back-Track Dance Lecture Series, University of California, Riverside, January 2010.

“Spectacles between Utopia and Melancholia” Embodiment of the Nation: Cultures of Exercise and Collective Emotions, University of Hamburg, Germany, May 2009.

“Unpopulärer Tanz als Krise universeller Geschichtsschreibung oder Wie Yutian und ich lang anhaltenden Spaß mit unseriöser Historiographie hatten.” Original and Revival: Geschichts-Schreibung im Tanz, University of Bern, Switzerland, November 2008.

Interview. Tanzrebellen: The New Dance Group. ARTE European TV Channel, broadcast in German and French, October 2008.

“Choreographies of Rebellion and Opposition in a National Context.” Centre National de la Danse, Paris, January 2008.


Grants and Fellowships:

National Endowment for the Art, American Masterpiece Grant, Project Director, 2010-2011.

Jacobs Pillow, Scholar in Residence Award, 2007.

DAAD Senior Academic Research Grant, Re-invitation Scheme (German Academic Exchange Service, German Government Agency), 2004.

British Academy Overseas Conference Grant, 2003, 2004.

Djerassi, Artists Residency Fellowship, Djerassi Foundation, 2002.



Dance Theory and History, Critical Theory, LGBTQ Studies, German Studies


Dance and Cultural History

Critical Approaches to Dance

Movie Moves

Contemporary Dance in a Global Context

Professional Experience

Board Member, Editorial Board, Congress on Research in Dance, 2011-present.

Board Member, Editorial Board, Society of Dance History Scholars, 2011-present.

Board Member, Board of Directors, Society of Dance History Scholars, 2005-2011.

Juror, de la Torre Bueno National Book Prize in Dance Studies, 2007.