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Gender and Sexuality Performances Among LGBT+ Equality Dancers: Photo-Elicitation as a Method of Inquiry

Wong, Yen Nee



In its classical form, ballroom dancing constitutes heterosexual dance couples enacting conservative forms of masculinity and femininity. A normative focus, both in scholarship and in practice, on the classical form in competitive ballroom dancing (also known as Dancesport) excludes the lived narratives of LGBT + dancers practicing the sport outside of the mainstream. Equality Dancesport is one such example, with dancers performing in diverse partnership typologies and adopting less gender-segregated dance roles and movements. Drawing on the photo-elicitation exercise, embedded within in-depth interviews, conducted as part of a broader ethnographic study on the equality Dancesport scene in the United Kingdom, I demonstrate how the strategy informed a ground-up emergence of a queer theoretical framework for understanding masculinities and femininities across the sex, gender and sexuality categorical divides. Four key opportunities afforded by photo elicitation are identified, namely (1) invoking new queer knowledge which blurs the binary divide in how concepts of masculinities and femininities are investigated in existing dance scholarship, (2) facilitating the development of more egalitarian researcher/participant relationships, (3) enabling affective, detailed and fluid narrations of lived experiences of dancing, and (4) positioning interviewees as dance spectators and inspiring reflections on the community. The paper concludes with three recommendations for negotiating the pitfalls of using a photo elicitation technique in dance studies. First, researchers need to recognise the limits of inclusivity offered by photo elicitation and practice sensitivity towards participants. Second, integrating photographs with other visual methods such as videos can enable researchers to leverage the strengths of different visual tools to inspire talk about broader topics. Third, before using the method, researchers need to develop mental strength for coping with negative talk, to achieve more holistic understanding of participants’ sentiments and motivations and as a duty of accountability towards them.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 25, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jul 26, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 26, 2023
Journal International Journal of Qualitative Methods
Electronic ISSN 1609-4069
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Keywords constructivist GT, ethnography, photo elicitation, case study, feminist research arts based methods, grounded theory, methods in qualitative inquiry


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