In the twenty-first century, values of competition underpin the free-market economy and aspirations of individual achievement shape the broader social world. Consequently, ideas of winning and losing, success and failure, judgment and worth, influence the dance that we see and do. Across stage, studio, street, and screen, economies of competition impact bodily aesthetics, choreographic strategies, and danced meanings.
In formalized competitions, dancers are judgedaccording to industry standards to accumulate social capital and financial gain. Within the capitalist economy, dancing bodies compete to win positions in prestigious companies, while choreographers hustle to secure funding and attract audiences. On the social dance floor, dancers participate indance-offs that often include unspoken, but nevertheless complex, rules of bodily engagement.
And the media attraction to the drama and spectacle of competition regularly plays out in reality television shows, film documentaries, and Hollywood cinema. Drawing upon a diverse collection of dances across history and geography, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition asks how competition affects the presentation and experience of dance and, in response, how dancing bodies negotiate,critique, and resist the aesthetic and social structures of the competition paradigm.