Sociocultural professor, Dr. Pirkko Markula has been awarded a SSHRC grant to look at the cultural perspectives of the TV dance show, So You Think You Can Dance.
More than 90 U of A research projects worth almost $5 million were named as the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada released the results of the 2012–13 research grants and scholarship programs.
Of the awards, 15 research grants went to U of A-involved projects as part of the Insight Grants program, which enables the highest levels of research excellence in Canada by building knowledge and understanding, and by facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration across research disciplines, universities and all sectors of society. Another 10 projects were awarded Insight Development Grants, which are designed to support research in the initial stages.
Pirkko Markula, a researcher in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, received an $87,601 SSHRC Insight grant to examine the hit dance TV show, So You Think You Can Dance, as a physical cultural practice within specific historical and cultural conditions.
The popular live dance program, which attracts nearly five million viewers per week, reaches wide audiences and, according to Markula, says something about how dance is understood and made popular through live television shows.
“With its growing popularity, dance has become a more attractive area of study and research,” said Markula. “Through dance research, I believe we can draw attention to the opportunities to study dance at the U of A, link the U of A closer to the international networks of scholars studying popular media, dance, and physical activity, and attract international students interested in dance research and education.”
The performance ethnography researcher explains, as a movement practice and as an art form, dance has occupied a relatively marginalized position compared to other performing arts such as music or drama, but finds it interesting that dance has, relatively suddenly, gained much more visibility through television shows entirely devoted to dance.
Moreover, Markula says she is hopeful her research can lend some insight to previous studies that have found that many girls continue to dance despite a drastic drop-off in physical activity among girls as they enter their teens.
“Dance continues to be dominated by women and thus could offer important avenue for increasing women's physical activity levels,” she said. “It is important to further understand what attracts women to dance, but also how men could be more involved in dance.”
More information about dance classes and programs in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at www.dance.ualberta.ca