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“It’s Just Like Swan Lake!” Movement and Meaning in Popular Culture

Atkins-photo_Web Feature

Dr. Jen Atkins | Florida State University

"It's Just Like Swan Lake!" Movement and Meaning in Popular Culture

March 6, 2024

3:00-4:30 PM

GLAS 311

The arts emerged as a key survival ingredient in the wake of Covid’s near-global quarantine and isolating effects. Painting commentaries, street murals, memes, musical compositions, at-home theatricals, zoom videos, and viral social media challenges proliferated as commentary on—or escapism from—the virus, contributing to a feeling of aliveness and connection during iterative lockdowns. At the center of this movement was movement itself. Across online platforms, people danced their way to increased resilience, solidarity, and better times. Dance’s centrality within popular culture, and its ability to reflect, comment on, and even reshape contemporary ideas, is not new. In fact, dance is so immersed in our daily lives that it often becomes invisibilized. Join Dr. Atkins to examine US popular culture’s love affair with dance and to illuminate how popular culture wields everyday movement as a powerful tool for changing the world.

Dr. Atkins will be in residence at Texas A&M during the week of March 4, 2024 as a Short-Term Visiting Fellow. For more details on Dr. Atkins's visit, contact Dr. Jessica Herzogenrath at


Jen Atkins (she/hers) is Associate Professor of Dance at Florida State University, where she teaches dance history. Jen’s classes draw on social and concert dance forms to examine persistent historical and aesthetic debates, critically analyzing identity, systems of power, and the interrelatedness of past and present. Outside of the classroom, Jen serves on the Board of the Popular Culture Association (PCA) and works closely with PoP Moves: An International Research Group for Popular Dance. Jen’s first book, Carnival Balls in New Orleans: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920 (LSU Press, 2017) earned the Jules and Frances Landry Award for most outstanding achievement in the field of southern studies. Jen just returned from a year abroad in Norway, where she served as a 2022-23 Fulbright Roving Scholar in American Studies.