UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Navigating race and gender in fitness spaces : exploring perspectives of racialized women in aerial dance D/O Ram Singasan, Sarita Devi


This research project explored whether racialized women feel safe and included in alternative fitness spaces, specifically in aerial dance. Traditional fitness environments such as gyms and dance spaces tend to be white and exclusionary to racialized women (Cardoza, 2019). Building on research showing that artistic movements such as dance, including aerial dance, is a popular activity among women (Kosma & Buchanan, 2018), this study explores the appeal of aerial dance for racialized women. Despite its popularity (Ward, 2019), aerial dance remains an under-researched arena of both bodily and movement discourses. This study involved 12 in-depth semi structured interviews via Zoom with women of color who practice aerial dance in Canada. It was guided by the following research questions:1) What are the experiences of women of color in aerial dance spaces? 2a) In what ways are aerial dance spaces empowering and inclusive for women of color? 2b) In what ways are aerial dance spaces constraining and exclusionary for women of color? 3) How can aerial dance spaces specifically and physical activity spaces in general be transformed into more inclusive and empowering spaces for women of color? Using thematic analysis, the research study found that aerial dance spaces served a dual nature, presenting both barriers to, as well as fostering opportunities for inclusion and belonging for women of color. Several recommendations emerged from this study such as developing programs and policies for marginalized communities, targeted outreach, and reducing financial barriers to address the diverse challenges faced by marginalized communities in accessing and participating in physical activities. This study makes a significant contribution to the existing literature on gender and race in dance, as well as fills an identified gap in the research on women of color in aerial dance. Developing a greater understanding of what makes for safe and empowering physical activity spaces may serve as an avenue for establishing safe and inclusive spaces for women of color to experience physical activity in diverse contexts.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International