Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies (BA)


Cultural Studies

First Advisor

Douglas Reichert Powell

Second Advisor

Robert E. Watkins

Third Advisor

Kenneth Daley


The purpose of this study is to investigate liturgical dance in the black church tradition as a gendered space. I argue that black girls perform their sexuality as ascribed to hetero-patriarchal ideology—as preached within the black church—through liturgical dance. This ideology akin to politics of respectability separates the sacred from the secular which causes a tension. This tension shows up in the hyper-ness of liturgical dancing. This study discusses this by contextualizing liturgical dance within a history of black concert dance and embodied practices of resistance. This study frames liturgical dance within the black dance tradition, black feminist studies, and womanist theology drawing parallels between the excessive and exuberant expressions within the black worship experience and sexual repression. This study also employs E. Patrick Johnson’s methodology of critical performance ethnography in an interview with the dance ministry leader at Living Word Christian Center as well as an observation of a rehearsal and Sunday morning ministry.