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 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 her 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 US federal arts 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 under advanced contract with Wesleyan University Press.
In addition to her work on institutional endowment in dance and the arts, Sarah also undertakes ethnographic analyses of local arts work and work worlds. Such writing 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 strategies as a guest faculty member in the low residency MA program at Wesleyan University's Institute for Curatorial and Performance Practice (ICPP). At Wesleyan, Sarah also serves as a co-PI overseeing a set of ethnographic and economic case studies commissioned by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation that track economic drivers and social, cultural, and institutional infrastructures that shape the working lives and livelihoods of contemporary artists working in various realms of live performance.
Sarah second book project under development catalogues ethnographic case studies of local dance work-worlds in secondary and off-center US communities and towns with a close purchase on artists' enmeshment in dominant economic trends and institutionally-incentivized patterns of production.
Prior to landing at Duke, Sarah served as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies and the Humanities at Brown University (2016-2018). Sarah also sweats more than most humans.
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. “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, 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