Jens Richard Giersdorf


Professor of Dance Studies







Jens Richard Giersdorf is an international dance scholar whose research focuses on choreographies of politics in a global context as well as epistemological concerns in dance studies. His writing has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals as well as translated and anthologized internationally. Giersdorf is regularly invited by key national and international institutions to speak on his work. His monograph The Body of the People (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) is the first study on dance in East Germany and the German translation Volkseigene Körper (transcript Verlag, 2014) was supported by the Swedish Lilian Karina Foundation. In co-authorship with Gay Morris, Giersdorf edited Choreographies of 21st Century Wars (Oxford University Press, 2016) and in co-authorship with Yutian Wong the third edition of the Routledge Dance Studies Reader (Routledge, forthcoming).

In his service to the professional field, Giersdorf serves as the Vice President for Publications and Research of the Dance Studies Association. Giersdorf has also served on several College committees, including the Committee on Promotion and Tenure and the Governance and Handbook Committee. His teaching expertise includes critical European and U.S. American dance history, disciplinary discourses of embodiment and dance education, as well as politics of dance and movement practices.

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. Prior to joining MMC’s dance faculty in 2006, he held positions in dance studies at the University of Surrey/UK and the University of California, Riverside.


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.


Edited Collections:

Routledge Dance Studies Reader. 3rd Edition. Eds. Jens Richard Giersdorf  and Yutian Wong. London: Routledge, forthcoming.

Choreographies of 21st Century Wars. Ed. Gay Morris and Jens Richard Giersdorf. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Special Issue: Randy Martin and Dance Studies, Co-edited with Mark Franko. Dance Research Journal. 48.3. (2016), (peer-reviewed journal).


Articles in Edited Collections:

“(In)distinct Positions: The Politics of Theorizing Choreography” The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Reenactment. Ed. Mark Franko. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

“Patricio Bunster“ and “Gret Palucca” entries, Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. Eds. Janet O’Shea and Susan Manning (dance editors), Stephen Ross (general editor) London: Routledge, 2016.

“Is it OK to Dance on Graves? Modernism and Socialist Realism Revisited” The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics. Eds. Gerald Siegmund, Rebekah Kowal, and Randy Martin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“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 Verlag, 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.


Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals:

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

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

“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.

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

“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.

“’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.


Invited Speaker:

Keynote: “Choreographic Agency,” Violence of Inscription, HAU, Berlin, November 2017.

“The Politics of In-betweeness,” The Activist Body Symposium, Brown University, September 2017.

“Critical Moves: Tribute to Randy Martin,” Pratt Institute, March 2017.

“East German Dance as Affirmation and Resistance,” Dancing the Cold War Symposium, Harriman Institute, Columbia University, February 2017.

“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.

“(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:

Lilian Karina Foundation, Sweden, Lilian Karina Grant, 2014.

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

Vice President Publications and Research, Dance Studies Association, 2017-present.

Board Member, Editorial Board, Congress on Research in Dance, 2011-2017.

Board Member, Editorial Board, Society of Dance History Scholars, 2011-2016.

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

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


Carson Hall, Room 508


Jens Richard Giersdorf, Ph.D.
Associated Professor of Dance
221 East 71st Street
New York, NY 10021