Department of Dance Office: DC-S131     Phone: 562-985-4747     Fax: 562-985-7896




Faculty Bio Page



Colleen Dunagan, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Office Phone: 562.985.7040
Office: DC-F206


Colleen Dunagan is an Associate 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 in Film, Improvisation, Composition I, Traditions in Ballet and Modern Dance, and Dance in a Cultural Perspective.  Graduate courses include Seminar in Dance, Criticism and Analysis of Dance, Dance History, and Dance for Camera.  She serves as the MFA Advisor and the MFA Project Report Writing Advisor.

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” 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 International Journal of Arts in Society and has been presented nationally at conferences, including SDHS, CORD, and the Popular Culture Association.  She recently completed two co-authored book chapters with Roxane Fenton: “The Beatles, the Moving Image, and Dancing Bodies” in Movies, Moves
and Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films (forthcoming)and “Dirty Dancing: Dance, Class, and Race in the Pursuit of Womanhood” in Hollywood Dance Film Anthology (forthcoming). 

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, which reexamines Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’Apres Midi d’un faune.  In addition, she choreographs for Department concerts, producing Fractured Singularities (2012) to an original score by Rychard Cooper and Night Flowers (2010) set to Debussy’s Image Pour Orchestra performed live by the Bob Cole Conservatory Orchestra most recently.  From 2005-2008 she participated 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, Riverside. She is a practitioner of contact improvisation, which she practices locally in Los Angeles in addition to traveling to festivals/workshops in Seattle and San Francisco.  Her other movement practices include Bartenieff Fundamentals and contemporary modern technique. 

Dr. Dunagan is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society of Dance History Scholars and is a member of the Congress on Research in Dance and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.  Previously, she served as a reviewer for the Dance Resource Center of Greater Los Angeles’ Lester Horton Awards.  In 2001-02 she worked as an independent researcher for the National Dance Education Organization’s archival project on dance education.