Susan Leigh Foster

Susan Leigh Foster

Distinguished Research Professor


Susan Leigh Foster, choreographer and scholar, is Distinguished Professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. She is author of Reading Dancing, Choreographing Narrative, Dances that Describe Themselves, Choreographing Empathy, and, most recently, Valuing Dance: Commodities and Gifts in Motion. Three of her danced lectures can be found at the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage website.


Theories of dance and theories of history.

Creative Practice & Research

  • Recent courses include: Dance Composition, Dance History, Corporealities, and Theories of Writing.
  • Publications include: Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance (1986), which received the DeLaTorre Bueno Prize for scholarship in dance; Choreographing Narrative: Ballet’s Staging of Story and Desire (1996), Dances that Describe Themselves: The Improvised Choreography of Richard Bull (2003); Choreographing Empathy: Kinesthesia in Performance (2011), and, most recently, Valuing Dance: Commodities and Gifts in Motion (2019)
  • While serving chair of the dance department at UC Riverside in the 1990s, Foster built the first doctoral-level program in critical dance studies in the United States.
  • Her work as a choreographer has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with Choreographer’s Fellowships and by the Rockefeller and Jerome Foundations. Her work as a scholar has received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.