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"Boys to men": negotiating hegemonic masculinity by using dance as a mechanism to explore the performativity of boyhood into manhood within (KwaZulu-Natal) Hilton College Grade 11 (2012, 2013,2014 and 2015) dramatic art learners

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This dissertation will explore the performativity of gender and sexuality amongst adolescent males (16 to 18 years of age) from within the context of the subject specificity of the Dramatic Arts classroom at Hilton College (KZN), with a primary focus on dance. This will be done through interrogating and examining the way in which dance performance practices (as a site of high school learning and education) can function as a transgressive space in which young adolescent South African men are given the opportunity to engage and critically consider and/or reconsider their own masculinities as social/cultural constructions. Hilton College is a private all-boys full-time boarding school, accommodating boys from Grade 8 to Grade 12. Most of the pupils are from economically privileged backgrounds; however, there are some who attend the school through scholarships and/or sponsorship. This is a qualitative research project, and the process of working with my Grade 11 Dramatic Arts students at Hilton College and their creation of choreography for performance will serve as the case study. In my personal experience of the rehearsal process for FUNK in past years I was inspired to investigate the boys’ personal involvement and the underlying issues around their constructions/ideas of masculinity that were evidenced in the rehearsal process. One of the intentions of the project was that through the boys’ involvement in this process they may be offered the opportunity to (re)consider their often narrow and excluding ideas of masculinity, within the context of their own educational and deeply paternalistic schooling environment. The project is participatory action research, as I was involved in observing and engaging with the pupils as they worked through the creation of the piece. It is also ethnographic as I am immersed in the culture of the school. I know the pupils well and it is a safe environment for them to be honest about their opinions and experiences. The participants in the study are the 13 boys in the 2014 Drama class at Hilton College. The class is mixed race, of mixed academic ability and the students are between the ages of 16 and 18.The case study entailed a number of one-on-one interviews with the pupils at the end of the project, as well as various discussions which occurred throughout their involvement. The interviews included questions around Hilton College, the participants’ masculinity, sport at the school, Drama, Arts and Culture and their involvement in FUNK 2014. This research interrogates the assumptions and stereotypes that are to be found in the context of a private all-boys boarding school around dance in particular, and how this affects the way in which the boys’ own masculinity is perceived. One of the intentions in this research study was that the students’ involvement in a mediated dance performance might change their perceptions around dance and themselves as dancing active young men through their exposure to this FUNK project.


Master of Arts in Drama and Performance Studies.University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2015.


Theses--Drama and performance studies., Male dancers., Dance--Sociological aspects., Masculinity in the theater., Masculinity.