By Nicolas Poussin - Unknown source, Public Domain,

AMS MDSG and AMS Statements about Black Lives

Members and officers of the Music and Dance Study Group stand in solidarity with those who work daily to dismantle systemic racism and strive to engage in that same work as we go about our scholarship, education, service to the AMS, and work in our communities. Click here to see the AMS statement in reaction to the killing of George Floyd by President Suzanne Cusick.



The Music and Dance Study Group (MDSG) of the American Musicological Society (AMS) is a forum for musicologists interested in the study of dance, an art to which music is tied more than any other. Our members explore all periods of history, from the medieval era through the twenty-first century. Members use methodologies ranging from archival studies to critical theory, addressing questions—whether with an aesthetic, formalist, cultural, and/or historical focus—about the meetings of dance and music. Members examine myriad dance practices and locations: ballet to breakdancing, contra dance to contemporary dance, dances performed at court or on a concert stage, on screen or on the street.

The purpose of the MDSG is to bring together music-and-dance scholars with such varied interests and promote a cross-pollination of ideas. Our goals include revealing the shared concerns and mutually beneficial interrelationships between dance studies and music studies; advocating for the study of dance both in music studies and across the humanities; providing a space for fostering discussions during national and regional meetings of the AMS; and encouraging the exchange of ideas, information, and materials beyond the conference circuit.


The MDSG holds a business meeting, an evening panel, and a dance workshop at every AMS Annual Meeting. It maintains a website, member directory, Facebook page, and Google Group / listserv on which to share announcements and discussions. The MDSG is always open to new members, to different understandings of dance/movement and music/sound, and to expanding existing creative, critical, pedagogical, and research paradigms surrounding music and dance.



To join, please visit the AMS Music and Dance Study Group google group (click here or on the link below) or e-mail the Google group. Please note that anyone with an email may join and then receive and post messages, but only those with a Google Account can interact via the web, customize List delivery options, and view archives. If you do not have a Google account, simply e-mail us with a request to be added. (All requests are subject to administrative approval, so there may be a short delay.)




Over the years the AMS Music and Dance Study Group has brought in scholars, artists, and musicians to participate and lead in our events at the American Musicological Society Annual Meeting and we have paid these contributors through AMS guest artist funds and casual donations made by devoted members. We are now set up to formally take in donations at the AMS website. In particular, in 2019 we funded the remainder of the honorarium for our AMS Boston guest artists Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, who were primarily funded through a generous AMS grant. We also hope to build funding for future guests and events through the AMS website. We invite you, if you are able, to consider helping in our efforts. Click on the link to donate:

AMS virtual meeting 2021


MDSG Study Group Events


Thursday, November 11, 6:00PM – 08:00PM

Cultural Crossroads in Chicago: Music and Dance in the Windy City, Keynote by
Jenai Cutcher, Chicago Dance History Project


Chicago has an extensive dance past as both a key circuit of national and international networks and as the place of an intensely local and diverse dance scene – intertwined with a no less exciting music scene. Despite the abundance of activity, there is a lack of awareness of the city's dance/music roots, and furthermore, no existing means for widely disseminating this information. We are honored that Jenai Cutcher, Executive and Artistic director of the Chicago Dance History Project (CDHP), an independent research organization, will begin our panel of papers with a keynote presentation of her diverse initiatives to keep Chicago's dance history alive (for a first overview see Her talk will describe the CDHP's efforts, which address diversity by investigating, preserving, and presenting oral and corporeal histories of dance in Chicago.

Friday, November 12 , 06:00pm – 06:50PM
Music and Dance Study Group Business Meeting


All are invited to attend for the important business of electing officers and making preliminary decisions about next year's programming.

Sessions with Dance Topics

Thursday, November 11, 4:00PM – 4:50PM
Dance Narratives  

“Dancing Envoys to Paris”: George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet at the Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century Festival. Lena Leson, University of Michigan

Dancing to J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Erinn Knyt, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Cakewalking in Paris: New Representations and Contexts of African American Culture. Cesar Leal, Gettysburg College


Friday, November 12,  2:00PM – 2:50PM Categorizing Style in Popular Dance

The Steps and Social Meanings of the Carolina Shag. Mary McArthur, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester


“We Like to be Conservative Together”: Justin Peck, Sufjan Stevens, and Innovation in a Nostalgic Art Form. Flannery Jamison


The Rhythm of Life is a Powerful Beat: Towards a Theory of Rhythm in Film Editing. Alex Ludwig, Berklee College of Music


Sunday, November 21, 11:00AM – 11:50AM Musical Notations: Instruments of Bodily and Archival Order

The Measure of Man: Locating the Origins of Mensural Notation at the Congress of Arab Music (Cairo, 1932). Giulia Accornero, Harvard University


Notating Irish Dance: An Ethnography of Personal Archives and Choreo-Musical Transmission. Samantha Jones, Harvard University


“A Prescription for Taking Action”: Notating Domestic Music in Seventeenth-Century English Recipe Books. Sarah Koval, Harvard University

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