Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Susan McGuire


This thesis was an exploration of how the female ballerina can be better represented in the culture, aesthetics, and politics of ballet. Despite the patriarchal and misogynistic traditions that this artform is steeped in, women have made significant strides in reclaiming ballet as a tool of female empowerment, rather than of suppression or objectification. A disparity of leadership positions, a traditionally disempowering training system, misogynistic ballet narratives, and patterns of abuse and harassment all combine to create a world which disempowers female dancers on multiple levels. Despite these realities, women have been at the forefront of narrowing wage and opportunity gaps, encouraging transparency about mental and physical health, speaking out against harmful power dynamics, and creating ballets which tell a more complete story of the female experience. This thesis aimed to emphasize the work that is being done to remedy these systemic issues, while also further exploring the question of female empowerment through the ballet technique. In conjunction with the research that was done into the broader topic, I created a full-length piece designed to illustrate the process by which the ballet technique might be able to serve the ballerina herself, rather than the man who constructed her. This collaborative choreographic process incorporated inspiration from several other choreographers who have also grappled with the topic of female representation through ballet movement. I aimed to collaborate with my dancers to portray the intrinsic strength of the ballerina and the freedom of artistic expression that can be found through the technique.

Included in

Dance Commons