Janet O'Shea

Calvin Alagot Inosanto-3.2


Janet O’Shea


Dance, Martial Arts, Postcolonial Studies, Phenomenology, Life Writing


Office: 140C Glorya Kaufman HallCA 90095

Tel: 310-825-0198

Fax: 310-825-7507

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BA Anthropology and Dance, Wesleyan University (1990)

MA South Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley (1995)

PhD Dance History and Theory, University of California Riverside (2001)


Janet O’Shea is author of At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage, co-editor of the Routledge Dance Studies Reader (second edition), and a member of the editorial review board for the Routledge Online Encyclopedia of Modernism. Recipient of a UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant to study the cognitive benefits of Filipino Martial Arts training, she is completing an ethnographic memoir entitled Risk, Failure, Play: What Martial Arts Training Reveals about Proficiency, Competition, and Cooperation. She recently gave a TED Talk, entitled “Beyond Winning,” on competitive play and offered a keynote presentation at the second annual Martial Arts Studies conference. 


Having worked as a Reader in Dance Studies at Middlesex University (UK) and Lecturer in Dance Studies at the University of Surrey (UK), she is currently Professor of dance studies in the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. 


Her UCLA teaching includes instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate teaching includes World Dance Histories and History of Modern and Postmodern Dance. Graduate teaching includes Theories of Corporeality and graduate writing seminars. Electives such as Risk, Failure, Play and Work in Creative Practice, and Memoir and Ethnography of Movement Practices are open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Emerging areas of teaching interest include ethnography of sport, life writing, and food politics. 


Select Publications:  

Making Play Work: Competition, Spectacle and Intersubjectivity in Hybrid Martial Arts. In Dodds, Sherril, ed. Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition. Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.


Festivals and Local Identities in a Global Economy: the Festival of India and Dance Umbrella. In DeFrantz, Thomas and Rothfield, Philipa, eds. Choreography and Corporeality: RELAY in Motion. Palgrave Macmillan. 2016.


From Temple to Battlefield: Bharata Natyam in Sri Lanka. In Giersdorf, Jens and Morris, Gay, eds. Choreographies of 21st Century Wars. Oxford University Press. 2016.


Intercultural Collaboration? Thinking Culture Beyond the Nation in the Work of Shobana Jeyasingh and Zhang Yunfeng. In Bannerman, Christopher, ed. Journal of the Beijing Dance Academy. 85: 209 – 219. 2011. 


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UCLA Department of World Arts Cultures/Dance
Box 951608, 150 Kaufman Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1608
Tel 310.825.3951