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VK Preston

Assistant Professor, History

VK Preston is Assistant Professor of History at Concordia University. Their research draws from approaches in performance historiography with particular focus on dance. VK works across histories of the performing arts in order to address cultural histories of practice, embodiment, and stigma. This research analyses histories of the emotions and the senses in intersectional analyses of race, gender, disability, and cultural privilege.

VK comes to performance scholarship by way of practice, following professional training in dance and theatre. Their work draws from approaches in performance studies and historiography through early modern critical race studies, movement, and gender studies. Dr. Preston’s writing appears in Theatre Journal, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Reenactment, Performance Research, TDR/The Drama Review, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theatre, Canadian Theatre Review, and History, Memory, Performance. VK’s current writing projects include studies of art and performance entangled with the colonial invasion of the Americas, from baroque performance to contemporary visual and performance art. Their approaches engage with histories of the Atlantic world, and of Turtle Island, addressing genealogies of racial capitalism, decolonization, non-binary gender, historical memory, and translation. They are currently working on their first monograph.

VK is a fellow of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto and faculty member of the internationally situated MFA program in Dance at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Their studies include both conservatory and university training, and their pedagogical and research interests include bridging relationships between creative humanities and arts practices. 

VK currently holds an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, "New Directions in Seventeenth-Century Performance Research: Intangible Baroques." In 2016 VK received an Australian Research Council’s History of Emotions Project early career fellowship and a short-term research fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library. They have also participated in the Mellon Foundation's Summer Seminars "Dance in/and the Humanities," convened by Susan Manning, Janice Ross, and Rebecca Schneider, and the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research." Previously, VK has taught at Brown University, the University of Toronto, and the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.

“Baroque Relations: Performing Gold and Silver in Daniel Rabel’s Ballets of the Americas” received the 2018 Gertrude Lippincott prize for best English-language essay from the Dance Studies Association. In 2014, Alanna Thain and VK Preston won the Richard Plant award for best article in English on a topic in Canadian theatre and performance studies for “Tendering the Flesh: the ABC’s of Dave St-Pierre’s Contemporary Utopias” in TDR / The Drama Review.

B.A. Concordia; M.A. State University of New York Binghampton; PhD Stanford University

Photo: VK Preston
Photo credit: Tristan Brand

Research activities

SSHRC-IDG: New Directions in Seventeenth-Century Performance Research: Intangible Baroques

Teaching activities

The Baroque HIST 398/2 E


Selected Publications

Preston, VK. 2020. “Queer and Indigenous Art: Performing Ice Times in Climate Crisis,” Theatre Journal 72 (2), ed. EJ Westlake, 143-162.
Preston, VK. 2020. “Performance, Climate, and Critical Art,” Theatre Journal 72 (2), ed. Margherita Laera, E-7-E-13.
Preston, VK. 2020. “Convening Muses and Turning Tables: Reimagining a Danced Politics of Time in Jordan Bennett and Marc Lescarbot.” Futures of Dance Studies (Studies in Dance History). Eds. Susan Manning, Janice Ross, and Rebecca Schneider. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 269-285
Preston, VK. 2018. “Reproducing Witchcraft: Thou Shalt Not Perform a Witch to Live,” TDR / The Drama Review (62)1 (T237). Special issue: on reproduction. Ed., Rebecca Schneider. 143-159.
Preston, VK. 2017. “Baroque Relations: Performing Silver and Gold in Daniel Rabel’s Ballets of the Americas.” In The Oxford Handbook of Reenactment. Ed., Mark Franko. New York: Oxford University Press, 285-310.
Contributor to Imagined Theatres: Writing for a Theoretical Stage (2017), ed. Dan Sack. New York: Routledge.
Preston, VK. 2016. “A Dictionary in the Archives: Translating and Transcribing Silenced Histories in French and Wendat” (Performance Research 21(5), Trans/Performance, special issue, ed. Amelia Jones), 85-88.
Preston, VK. 2015. “How do I touch this text?: Or, the Interdisciplines Between, Dance and Theatre in Early Modern Archives.” In The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater. Ed., Nadine George-Graves. New York: Oxford University Press, 56-89.
Thain, Alanna and VK Preston. 2013. “Tendering the Flesh: the ABC’s of Dave St-Pierre’s Contemporary Utopias,” TDR / The Drama Review 57(4), 28-51.

Events and Public-Facing Work
"Dancing Dissent," Between, Across, and Through podcast hosted by Keven Lewis O'Neill and the Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies, University of Toronto
Indelible Refusal: Bodies, Performances, and Walking Resistance, with Stephanie Springgay (OISE)

Participation activities

Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI)

Mellon Dance Studies in/and the Humanities

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