Doctoral Students

Stephen Shropshire
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Research summary

This research project problematizes the applicability of ballet within a contemporary choreographic practice. It examines the influence of a presupposed ballet mythology on artistic agency; exploring how historical representations of ballet, rooted in nineteenth-century romantic and classical traditions, threaten ballet’s contemporariness by situating the form outside contemporaneity. The primary concern of this research is therefore to deconstruct ballet’s grand ‘classical’ narrative and challenge the conceptual oppositions that continue to dominate its discourse.

The methodology for this research is auto-ethnographic and grounded in a semiological analysis of ballet. It explores how the metaphorical meanings of ballet’s representations, engendered by cultural, social, and political codes, and perpetuated within organizations authorized with the advancement of contemporary dance, embody within an individual practice. Building upon an understanding of the production of art as historically and culturally situated (Marx and Engels, 1976), and following a notion of dance as a signifying practice occurring within systems of power (Jackson, 1994; Foster, 1986) this research aims to challenge both experience and context; to question the culturally constructed parameters of artistic identity and re-consider the constituents of choreographic contemporaneity.



Stephen Shropshire (1972, USA) is a choreographer, curator, and independent dance researcher. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City and holds an MA in Arts and Heritage from the University of Maastricht.

His choreographic work responds to the socio-political themes of our time and is distinguished by its compositional dexterity, musical sensibility, and virtuosic movement language. Between 2009 to 2012, Shropshire was the artistic director of Noord Nederlandse Dans and in 2016 established his foundation to facilitate the ongoing development and presentation of new choreographic work.

In 2017 Shropshire was awarded a special honor prize from the Dansersfonds ’79, and in 2018 he was awarded the VSCD ‘Zwan’ for most impressive dance performance of the season. Shropshire is currently the recipient of a ‘Fast Forward’ international production and research grant from the Dutch Performing Arts Fund.


Individual projects

    • Lecture/workshop ROCOCO VARIATIONS

      Stephen Shropshire gives a lecture/workshop for the São Paulo Companhia de Dança | Associação Pró-Dança. The program will explore the choreographic methodologies applied…


      Stephen Shropshire presents ballet ROCOCO VARIATIONS (2020) with live accompaniment from the Theatro São Pedro Orchestra.

      Theatro São Pedro, São Paulo (BR)