Colleen Dunagan is a Full Professor of Dance at California State University, Long Beach. She holds a Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside and a B.A. in Dance and English Literature from Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. Dr. Dunagan teaches a wide range of both undergraduate and graduate level courses. Undergraduate courses include Viewing Dance, Introduction to Modern Dance, Movement Analysis, Dance on Camera, Improvisation, Composition I, Dance and Social Identity in the U.S., and Global Cultures and Dance Traditions. Graduate courses include Seminar in Dance, Criticism and Analysis of Dance, and Dance History. She serves as the Assistant Chair, MFA Advisor and the Director of the summer MA Program. She regularly mentors undergraduate and graduate research, choreography, and thesis projects.
Professor Dunagan’s main research interests are dance in film/television and dance philosophy/aesthetics. Her dissertation examined the tradition of twentieth-century Western dance aesthetics from the perspective of post-structuralist critical theories in order to reveal how dance challenges Romantic and Enlightenment notions of art and author. Her article, “Dance, Knowledge, and Power” (2005) appeared in a special issue of Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy. In the article, she recuperates Susanne Langer’s philosophy of dance through a merging of Langer's ideas with elements of phenomenology and pragmatism.
Dr. Dunagan's current research project looks at the proliferation of dance in commercial formats, specifically the function of dance in television advertising and the role of dance in narrative cinema. Investigating links between Western theatrical dance practices, film musicals, vernacular dance forms, and dance-based commercials, she examines how dance contributes to popular culture and serves the advertising and filmic format as a meaning-maker. Her article, “Performing the Commodity-Sign: Dancing in the Gap,” appeared in Dance Research Journal 39 no. 2(Winter 2007). In the article she examines the ways in which The Gap’s dance-based commercials (khakis, that’s holiday, and West Side Story) employ dance and the popular art of the musical in order to subvert common positioning strategies used in advertising. Her writing on dance in commercials also appears in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater (2015) and The International Journal of Arts in Society (2006) and has been presented nationally at conferences, including SDHS, CORD, and the Popular Culture Association. Her research on dance in cinema has been published in Movies, Moves and Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films (2016) and The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen (2014). Most recently, she is completing a book manuscript on dance in television advertising.
In addition to her scholarly work, Dr. Dunagan continues to choreograph, producing both concert work and video dance. Her most recent video dance was a collaboration with film director Gregory R.R. Crosby, Aprés (2011), which reexamines Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’Apres Midi d’un faune. In addition, she choreographs for Department concerts, producing works such as Fractured Singularities (2012), Rhizomatic (2013), and Constructions and Assemblages, or How To Do Things With Motifs (2015) to original scores by Rychard Cooper (and Matt Pogue) and Night Flowers (2010) set to Debussy’s Image Pour Orchestra performed live by the Bob Cole Conservatory Orchestra most recently. Most recently, she worked collaboratively with students to create “her” first hip hop-modern fusion work, Coil (2016). Between 2005 and 2008 she participated in ThreeWay, a dance collective operating between Seattle/New York/Los Angeles co-founded with Sue Hogan and Erin Mitchell. Her choreography has been performed at Highways (Santa Monica, CA), The Chamber Theatre (Seattle, WA), University Settlement (NYC), Santa Ana College, Mt. San Jacinto College, CSU Long Beach, and the University of California,