Sarah Marie Wilbur

Sarah Marie Wilbur

Assistant Professor Of The Practice of Dance

Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Director of Undergraduate Studies

External address: Rubenstein Arts Center 209F, 2020 Campus Drive, Durham, NC 27705
Internal office address: Box 90686, Durham, NC 27708-0685
Office Hours: 
<p>By appointment.<br />Rubenstein Arts Center<br />2020 Campus Drive #209F<br /><br /><br /><br /></p>


Sarah Wilbur (Assistant Professor of the Practice/Dance) is a cross-sector choreographer and performance researcher who studies arts labor, economies, and institutional support principally in a US context.

She brings a strong field orientation to bear on her academic research, including over twenty years of experience working across the uneven economies of concert dance, theatre, musical theater, opera, K-12 education, health care, and Veterans’ Affairs.

Sarah's research and teaching together recognize the parity between dances that are performed and the aspects of dance making that are suppressed or ignored. 

It is Sarah's primary goal to highlight under-recognized labor and laborers in the arts in all facets of her professional work.

Sarah’s current manuscript, Funding Bodies: Five Decades of Dance "Making" at the National Endowment for the Arts [1965-2016] asks the choreographic question: How has the movement of philanthropic capital motivated the movement of dance organizers across the last five decades? Ideas from this monograph currently appear in TDR/The Drama Review (2017), and The Oxford Handbook on Dance and Competition (2018). Funding Bodies is under contract with Wesleyan University Press.

In addition to her work on institutional endowment in dance and across the arts, Sarah also contributes ethnographic analyses of local arts work and work worlds. Such writing currently appears in the Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship (2013), Performance Research (2015), TDR/The Drama Review (2016), and the Futures of Dance Studies collection (2020).

Beyond Duke and Durham, Sarah also teaches graduate courses on arts labor and production as a guest faculty member in the low residency graduate program, the Institute for Curatorial and Performance Practice (ICPP) at Wesleyan University. Adjacent to this teaching, Sarah also presently serves as a co-PI for an exploratory study commissioned by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation that tracks how artists circumnavigate economic drivers and institutionalized "norms" across various genres of performance.

Sarah next book project in development catalogues the collective labor at play in local dance work and work-worlds in secondary and off-center US communities and towns.

Prior to landing at Duke, Sarah served as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies and the Humanities at Brown University (2016-2018).

She also sweats more than most humans. 

Education & Training

Ph.D., culture and performance studies - University of California, Los Angeles
M.F.A., dance - University of California, Los Angeles 
B.F.A., dance - University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of California - Los Angeles 2016

Wilbur, Sarah. “Who "Makes" a Dance? Studying Infrastructure through a Dance Lens.” In The Futures of Dance Studies, edited by Rebecca Schneider, Janice Ross, and Susan Manning, 360–79. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2020.

Wilbur, S. “Does the NEA Need Saving?Tdr  the Drama Review  a Journal of Performance Studies 61, no. 4 (December 1, 2017): 96–106. Full Text Open Access Copy

Wilbur, S. “Gestural Economies and Production Pedagogies in Deaf West's Spring Awakening.” Tdr  the Drama Review  a Journal of Performance Studies 60, no. 2 (June 1, 2016): 145–53. Full Text Open Access Copy