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University academic Dr Clare Parfitt leads international conference exploring dance memory, migration, and movement

PoP Moves


AN EXPLORATION of the memory of dance – and its relationship with the migration and movement of people across the world – was the subject of an international conference co-chaired by a University of Chichester academic.

Reader in Popular Dance Dr Clare Parfitt was joined by researchers and practitioners from across the globe for the PoP (Performance of the Popular) Moves event in Paris. The two-day conference was hosted at the Université de Paris Nanterre in December to foster conversations and sharing between scholars, artists, and institutions across linguistic worlds.

The event was co-chaired between Dr Parfitt with Dr Laura Steil (below) from the School for International Training in the USA. It included the launch of the new Francophone node of the PoP Moves network, chaired by Dr Steil.

Dr Parfitt said: “The conference incorporated interactive lecture demonstrations, roundtables with popular dancers, and a plenary discussion in a circus tent as well as a collection of papers on topics including Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, Australian samba, and queer tango festivals.”

Dr Clare Parfitt and Dr Laura Steil

Dr Parfitt is a transcultural historian of popular dance practices whose interdisciplinary research explores dance, film studies, cultural history, and memory studies. She was a recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s leadership fellows for her Dancing with Memory project, which investigated the relationship between popular dance and cultural memory using the cancan as a case study.

She added: “My research interests are in popular dance practices - on the street, stage, or screen - whose low-art status and supposed triviality often disguise the workings of highly complex historical and transcultural processes. I am interested in what happens to popular dance practices as they are transmitted through history and across geographical space, through the performances, writings, images, films and digital media that inform cultural memory and cultural amnesia.”

PoP Moves in Paris

For more than a decade Dr Parfitt’s research has focused on the cancan as a complex site for the negotiation of race, gender, national and class identities since its emergence in the 1820s. Her research findings will culminate in a sole-authored monograph.

To find out more about Dr Clare Parfitt and research at the University of Chichester visit or read her blog at Alternatively for more about the PoP Moves conference in Paris go to or see