Graduation Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts


Music, Dance and Performing Arts

Director of the Honors Program

Gigi Gokcek, PhD

First Reader

Molly Rogers, MFA

Second Reader

Gay Lynch, PhD


This paper examines the authoritarian pedagogical practices found in educational settings and more specifically, in Western classical and contemporary dance training and rehearsals. These practices have been a part of dance for centuries, and their legacy has had severe impacts on the ethical, psychological, and political undercurrent of students’ educational and professional experiences. First, the historical roots of authoritarian teaching techniques are presented. Next, the ways in which dance teachers and choreographers employ authoritarian teaching behaviors are considered and examined. Finally, in hopes of providing a better template for the future, an overview of the ways in which some dance teachers conversely attempt to create democratic classrooms is examined. Research for this paper has been conducted using a variety of articles referencing dance history, performing arts psychology, sports psychology, anthropological studies of education, and critiques of dance training and rehearsals. Interviews with dance teachers, choreographers, and students are also included.