Shimmy, Shake and Shudder?: A Presentation and Discussion about Sexualization and Hypersexualization in Competitive Dance with Dr. Lisa Sandlos


Shimmy, Shake or Shudder?: A Presentation and Discussion about Sexualization and Hypersexualization in Competitive Dance with Dr. Lisa Sandlos

Date: June 29th, 2021

Time: 2:00- 3:00 pm

Place: ZOOM

Cost: FREE to all Dance Ontario members with promo code


What is the relationship between sexualization and competition in dance studios? How do instructors, parents, and young dancers negotiate, conform to, and resist sexualization and hypersexualization? These are some of questions that are particularly relevant to dance educators today, that will be discussed in our upcoming workshop hosted by Dr. Lisa Sandlos “Shimmy, Shake or Shudder?: Sexualization and Hypersexualization in Competitive Dance.” Join us on June 29th at 2pm for an exploration of the underlying social conditions that contribute to this issue that is prevalent in many youth dance competitions. Dr. Sandlos will present the findings of her research completed for her PhD in April 2020, which examines factors that contribute to the performance of sexualized dancing such as privatization, competition, normalization, cultural appropriation, mass media, and social media. She will then open the floor to a conversation rooted in these critical topics.

About the Facilitator

Dr. Lisa Sandlos teaches in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies and the School of Kinesiology at York University in Toronto, Canada. She holds a PhD in Gender, Feminist and Women's Studies, an MA in Dance and is a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) through the Laban Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS). As mentioned, Sandlos' doctoral research focused on sexualization in competitive dance and its effects on young dancers and public perceptions of dance. 

A keen interdisciplinary collaborator, Sandlos has worked on dozens of community projects with actors, musicians, puppeteers, and visual artists. She is co-founder with landscape architect Rennie Tang of a research/teaching group called Soma-City. Working through organizations such as the Ontario Arts Council’s Artists in Education program, the National Ballet of Canada’s Creating Dances program, and the Toronto District School Board’s Drama/Dance Project, she has taught contemporary dance, somatics, and improvisation to all ages and levels for over three decades. 

Event Background

Since the 1990s, privately operated dance studios in Canada and the United States have become increasingly invested in preparing students to perform in regional, provincial/state, and national competitions. Over the same period, emphasis on sexualized vocabularies of dance has increased and can be seen in many dance routines at competitions and in choreography posted on social media. "The connection between competition and the rise of a sexualized aesthetic in dance for children and adolescents," Dr. Sandlos remarks, "became clear to me through observations I have made in my long-time and ongoing roles as dance educator, dancer, feminist scholar, and parent of two young dancers."  These observations led her to conduct dozens of focus groups and interviews with dance studio owners/instructors, parents of dancers, former competitive dancers, and competition adjudicators. In addition, Dr. Sandlos facilitated a performance project involving fifteen 12 and 13-year-old dancers called "ReGirling the Girl." She used the data from these community-based research approaches to analyze meanings that dancers, instructors, and parents assign to sexualized movements and to investigate the implications for girl dancers and public perceptions of dance.

Dr. Sandlos calls on dance educators to consider how they might challenge and disrupt patterns of sexualization and hypersexualization in dance for young girls and boys. Seeking strategies for supporting and empowering dance educators, young girls and boys who dance, and their parents, Dr. Sandlos is dedicated to expanding conversations on the topic of sexualization and to encouraging new ways of using the medium of dance itself to empower and amplify the voices of young dancers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 2:00am to 3:00am