Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Christina F. Kreps, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James LaVita

Third Advisor

Richard Clemmer-Smith

Fourth Advisor

Ann Dobyns


Contra dance, Dance ethnography, Festivals, Intangible cultural heritage, Museums, Performance


In light of both the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the efforts of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in producing the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, it has become clear that work with intangible cultural heritage in museums necessitates staff to carry out ethnographic fieldwork among heritage communities. In order to illustrate this methodology, an ethnographic study was conducted in the Denver contra dance community to better explore conceptions of value and meaning related to the community by its members. Further, the contra dance findings point to certain issues related to defining the terms of community and sustainability, which relate to concepts illustrated by the 2003 UNESCO Convention. The different key elements of the project - museums, intangible cultural heritage, and contra dance - become linked together by considering each instance of expressive performance as the enactment of culture in the moment. The project research and paper contribute to the literature of contra dance, ethnographic dance studies, performance, museum studies, and the exhibition of intangible culture.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kathryn E. Young


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

178 p.


Cultural anthropology, Dance, Folklore