Latin Oxford
: Dominance, power, and gender roles in dancing salsa

  • Barbara Prentiss

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


As a form of popular entertainment, salsa dancing is an active social and commercial recreation in many places around the world. It has become, in Anglo- European parts of the world, a highly-structured partner dance, involving several months of training to become skilled. It is a gendered partner dance, ie, the standard model is men performing the leading role, and women following.

Central to this investigation is a social experiment into reversing the roles, involving a group of dancers who take a course in which women lead the dance and men are the followers. By examining the reactions of this group within a context of global experience, my research challenges the norms for learning salsa, and uncovers contemporary opinions about motivation, gender performance, identity, authority, and obedience. Using feminist theories of dominance, theories of practice, theories of constructed identity, theories of learning, theories of agency, and theories of emotion I explore the interwoven social forces at work in this popular form of recreation.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast

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