In 1559 when Elizabeth I became Queen of England, her country was on the brink of great social and political changes that she used to her advantage. Elizabeth facilitated the transition of her elite class from their feudal traditions to the modern notion of the courtier through her emphasis on Courtly manners, such as dance. Dance played an important role in Elizabethan England since it was prominent at Court, in the country, and even on the stage. This thesis examines Elizabeth’s crafting of power through dance and its reflection in popular culture, such as Shakespeare. It also investigates the social and political importance of being a proficient dancer at Court, emphasizing the idea of performing one’s status. Elizabeth’s subtle, yet controlled methods of crafting power linked proper manners and dancing to social status, allowing her Court members to prove their own worth and simultaneously fit her image of royalty. While the performative nature of dance played an important function at Court, it was also utilized on the stage, mixing with traditional country-dances to create metaphorical meanings. The sundry uses of dance reflected Elizabethan culture and Elizabeth’s cultivation of the activity as a tool of power.


Hettinger, Madonna




European History


Dance, William Shakespeare, England, Elizabeth I, Elizabethan Theater

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Jocelyn M. Lion