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Outstanding Undergraduate Research Student

Court dances from the Renaissance period integrated with contemporary movement. It's not what you expect to find at a dance concert, but it's what Tamara McCarty choreographed for her University Honors Program thesis, which has been lauded at dance concerts and research competitions.

Mentored by Colleen Dunagan (Department of Dance), the senior dance major explored the codification of gendered movement in Renaissance court dances by tracking choreographic changes in the dance practice and the sociopolitical influences of elite society.

McCarty attended workshops with the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society in England to learn how to perform historic court dances. She created Boundaries to physically explore choreographic elements of the court dances and masculine and feminine gender constructs in movement. During her process, she took historic steps and integrated them with contemporary dance ideas to explore gender today.

In her research, McCarty notes that elite rulers used dance as a political tool to exemplify and demonstrate power. Social roles were rehearsed as men moved strongly and women softly. Today, she notes, it is not necessary to maintain those social constructs - male and female dancers are equably capable of performing a wide range of movement qualities and styles.

Boundaries was one of 10 dances selected for CSULB's Contemporary Dance Concert in February. That same month, McCarty presented her research at the CSULB Student Research Competition, winning first place in the Creative Arts and Design category. As a result, she will present at the statewide CSU Student Research Competition at Cal Poly Pomona in May.

McCarty also presented her choreography and dance research at the American College Dance Festival Association's (ACDFA) Baja Regional Conference earlier this month and was featured in the Gala Concert.

A dancer since she was 4 years old, McCarty plans to move to New York to dance with a professional company after she graduates next month. She also wants to attend graduate school to study dance history and inspire a new generation of dancers as a teacher and choreographer.

Tamara McCarty


Tamara McCarty accepting her award