Marymount Manhattan

Department of

Jens Richard Giersdorf

Jens Richard Giersdorf’s research focuses on the politics of choreographies of nationhood and locality in a global context as well as the disciplinary history of dance studies’ epistemology. His monograph The Body of the People: East German Dance since 1945 is the first study on dance in East Germany as a disciplinary and resistive tool. He has published in a number of peer-reviewed journals including Dance Research Journal, GLQ – Gay & Lesbian Quarterly, Forum Modernes Theater, and Maska. Giersdorf’s work has been anthologized in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the USA. In co-authorship with Gay Morris, Giersdorf is currently editing an anthology on dance and 21st Century wars. Giersdorf is a member of the editorial boards of the Society of Dance History Scholars and Dance Research Journal.


Giersdorf earned a Magister in Theatre, Dance, and Music Theatre Theory from the University of Leipzig, received his Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside, and taught in the Department of Dance Studies at the University of Surrey and Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. His teaching interests include critical European dance history, politics of disciplinary discourses of embodiment and dance education, as well as politics of dance and movement practices. 

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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,


Recent Work


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


“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, forthcoming.


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


“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” Ricordanze. Memoria 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.


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).


“Dancing, Marching, Fighting: Folk, the Dance Ensemble of the East German Armed Forces, and Other Choreographies of Nationhood.” Discourses in Dance. 4.2 (2008): 39-58, (peer-reviewed journal).


“Von der Utopie zum Archiv: Patricio Bunster und die politische Funktion der Choreographie” Forum Modernes Theater. 23.1 (2008): 29-36, (peer-reviewed journal).


“Tanzwissenschaften, Dance Studies, Dance Theory: Vergleichende Untersuchung der Tanzwissenschaft in der internationalen Akademie” Tanzforschung & Tanzausbildung. Ed. Claudia Fleischle-Braun and Ralf Stabel, Berlin: Henschel Verlag, 2008, 45-52.


“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).


“Ideology and Dance: Competing Notions of Modern Dance and Ballet in East Germany 1945-61.” Dance Gazette 2004:2, 27-29.


“Technique as Ideology: Professional and Amateur Dance in East Germany 1961-1989” Dance Gazette 2004:3, 23-25.


“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)


“The Dance Theater of Jo Fabian: Blown Away, Pax Germania, and Prometheus.” TheatreForum. International Theatre Journal. June, 1999.


Invited Presentations:

“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.


“Why does Charlotte von Mahlsdorf Curtsy?: Representations of National Queerness in a Transvestite Hero.” University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 2006.


“Choreographing the Socialist Directive: Inventions of Realism, Folk, and Nationhood in East Germany,” Semaine des Langues et des Cultures, Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, January 2005.


“Inventions of Realism, Folk, and Nationhood in East Germany,” University of Madison-Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, April 2004.


“Choreographing the Socialist Directive: The Invention of a National Dance,” Dance Scholars Lecture Series, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, April 2003

“Trouble and Joy With East German Gender Deviations and National Identity,” Visual Culture and Performance Studies Lecture Series, Goldsmith College, London, November 2002


Grants and Fellowships:

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


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Creative Research Award, 2008 - 2009, Co-Principle Investigator.


Jacobs Pillow, Scholar in Residence Award, 2007.


University of Surrey Incentive Funding, 2006.


AHRB, Small Grants, 2004-05.


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

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.


Member, Conference Committee, Society of Dance History Scholars Annual Conference, 2007, 2008, 2010.


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