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Associate Professor, History

VK Preston is a cultural historian of performance traversing artistic and critical practices (movement, texts, images, cultural expression). Their research includes performing arts and archives, improvisation, and intersectional historiography. VK works alongside artists and scientists in dance studies,health, and research creation, investigating histories of the senses in experiential, often narrative approaches to embodiment and artistic practices. VK’s recent research addresses performance and early modern archives entangled with France, the Atlantic world, Turtle Island (North America), and long histories of French colonization in the Americas. This work is a practice of reckoning with performing arts archives and institutions; it reflects on practices of lived inheritance from movement techniques to material culture, economics, and world-building. They are currently working on their first book manuscript, and they are working on the concept of danceways as analogues to foodways and folkways.  VK also works in image arts and research-creation, improvisatory writing, collaborative composition, poetry, and illustration.

VK is currently interim director of the Honours undergraduate program in History at Concordia and Co-director, with Lilia Mestre and Meghan Moe Beitiks, of LePARC, the Performing Arts Research Cluster at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology. Most recently, VK was a Core Fellow (scholar) of the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France (Winter 2024). VK is presently a collaborator on the New Frontiers in Research Fund Project “The Sub-Measurable is Not Unreal” with fellow Concordia faculty scientists Re Mansbach (PI) and Claudine Gauthier (PI) and journalist Aphrodite Salas. They also work in collaboration with dance artist Caroline Gravel as dramaturg and as a writing and movement collaborator in Lilia Mestre’s Meeting Through Materialities, Movement and Words.

VK’s academic and theoretical writing has received several honours, appearing in postmedieval, Theatre Journal, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and ReenactmentPerformance ResearchTDR/The Drama ReviewThe Oxford Handbook of Dance and TheatreCanadian Theatre Review, and History, Memory, Performance. “Dancing the Kleptocene”  (2023) received an honourable mention for best essay from the Canadian Association for Theatre Research’s Richard Plant Award (2024). Their article “Queer and Indigenous Art: Performing Ice Times in Climate Crisis” (2020) also received an honourable mention from the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), for the Gerald Kahan Scholars' Prize (2021), and “Baroque Relations: Performing Gold and Silver in Daniel Rabel’s Ballets of the Americas” received the Gertrude Lippincott prize for best English-language essay from the Dance Studies Association (2018).

From 2019 to 2024, VK was a regular guest lecturer at the internationally situated experimental academy and MFA program in Dance at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, at residencies at the International Centre for Choreography (ICI-CCN) in Montpellier, France. Previously, VK taught at Brown University and the University of Toronto. They area past fellow of the Cité des Arts and École normale-supérieure (Paris)-Stanford University, for work on dance archives. VK holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Program (TAPS) with a Ph.D. minor in History. They attended Concordia as an undergraduate student, in Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, and attended LADMMI, now the Écolede danse contemporaine de Montréal. VK serves on the editorial boards of TURBA: The Journal for Global Practices in Live Arts Curation, Performascope: Lexique interdisciplinaire des performances et de la recherche-création (University of Grenoble), and Imagined Theatres: Writing for a Theoretical Stage.

Photo: VK Preston
Photo credit: Tristan Brand

Research activities

Grants and Fellowships

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

Connaught New Faculty

Mellon Foundation-Stanford Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Canada Council for the Arts (Theatre)

Group Grants

New Frontiers in Research Fund (Exploration), PIs Re Mansbach and Claudine Gauthier, "The Sub-measurable is Not Unreal"

Teaching activities


Courses at Concordia

Cross Faculty

DANC 302/2 &.      Dance as Social Life and Cultural Practice

HIST 398/2P

Department of History

HIST 498/670         Art and the City (Winter 2025)

HIST 298/4 BB       History of Film and Performance (Winter 2025)

HIST 306/2 A          History and the Public (Fall 2024)

HIST 379                History through Visual Media and Material Culture     

HIST 498/670         Montreal Performing Arts Archives and Histories       

HIST 281                Film in History                                                             

HIST 398                The Baroque  

HIST 398                Early Modern Atlantic World

Humanities Ph.D. Program

HUMA 888             Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies I

HUMA 889             Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies II   



Selected Publications

Preston, VK. 2023. "Dancing the Kleptocene," postmedieval 14 (2-3), ed. Kathryn Dickason, 487-511.

Preston, VK. 2021. “Sitting on a Man's Head: Danspace Project, St. Mark's Church, New York, NY,” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 43 (3), ed. Benjamin Gillespie, 39–42.

Preston, VK. 2020. “Queer and Indigenous Art: Performing Ice Times in Climate Crisis,” Theatre Journal 72 (2), ed. EJ Westlake,143-162. (Honourable mention: Gerald Kahan Scholar's Prize, ASTR)

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. (Gertrude Lippincott Award for best essay from the Dance Studies Association)

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 Throughpodcast hosted by Keven Lewis O'Neill and the Centre for Diaspora &Transnational Studies, University of Toronto

Indelible Refusal: Bodies, Performances, and WalkingResistance, with Stephanie Springgay (OISE)

Participation activities

Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI)

Mellon Dance Studies in/and the Humanities

Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research

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