Sarah Marie Wilbur
Assistant Professor Of The Practice of Dance
Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
Sarah Wilbur (Assistant Professor of the Practice/Dance) is a cross-sector choreographer and dance/performance researcher who studies artistic labor, identity and institutionalization, currently in a US context. She brings a strong field orientation to bear on her academic research, including over twenty years of field experience working across the cultural economies of concert dance, theatre, musical theater, opera, K-12 education, health care, and Veterans’ Affairs. Both her creative and scholarly research and teaching 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 dance’s under-recognized labor and laborers in all facets of her professional work.
Sarah’s current manuscript, entitled Funding Bodies: Five Decades of Dance "Making" at the National Endowment for the Arts [1965-2016] offers a critical cultural history of institution building and belonging inside of the Dance Program embedded in the lone arts philanthropic arm of the US federal government. Early articulations of her work on NEA dance recognition and resourcing appear in the The Oxford Handbook on Dance and Competition, and The Futures of Dance Studies edited collection (University of Wisconsin Press). A book that asks the choreographic question: how does the movement of capital motivate the movement of dance organizers within the context of federal arts subsidies, Funding Bodies is currently under contract with Wesleyan University Press.
In addition to her historical work on arts institutions and economies, Sarah also conducts ethnographic analyses of local dance and arts labor and laborers. Her writing on local arts practice and economy appears in Performance Research, TDR/The Drama Review, The Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship, and Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice.
She has reviewed scholarly work on dance and performance in e-misférica, and Dance Research Journal.
Sarah's work on arts institutions, labor, and laborers extends beyond the confines of Duke and Durham, most recently through her work as a guest faculty member and research advisor at Wesleyan University's Institute for Curatorial and Performance Practice (ICPP). At Wesleyan, Sarah currently teaches graduate courses on arts support for the low residency MA program in curatorial practice and serves as co-investigator on a series of qualitative studies articulating the zig-zag career trajectories and culturally specific challenges of artists working in live performance supported by the Doris Duke Foundation.
Prior to landing at Duke, Sarah served as the final Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies and the Humanities at Brown University (2016-2018), where she developed coursework for undergraduate and graduate students highlighting dance as a vital topic, theory, and method of knowledge production across areas of humanistic inquiry.
She did her graduate research in dance practice (M.F.A./dance) and culture and performance studies (Ph.D.) at UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, where she relished the privilege of teaching dance and embodied culture in a global city that was (and is) an incomparable syllabus on the topic of making dance work. Sarah is deeply committed to North Carolina's vibrant movement worlds and happy to join Duke as the most recent faculty member in Dance.
Education & Training
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles (culture and performance studies)
M.F.A., University of California, Los Angeles (dance)
B.F.A., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (dance)
Wilbur, Sarah. “Gestural Economies and Production Pedagogies in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening.” Tdr/The Drama Review 60, no. 2 (June 2016): 145–53. https://doi.org/10.1162/dram_a_00553. Full Text Open Access Copy
Wilbur, Sarah. “It's about Time Creative placemaking and performance analytics.” Performance Research 20, no. 4 (July 4, 2015): 96–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2015.1071046. Full Text Open Access Copy