About Kara Yoo Leaman

Elyria, Ohio

Kara Yoo Leaman (CBA ’20) is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Oberlin College Conservatory and a co-founder of the Dance and Movement Interest Group of the Society for Music Theory. Leaman’s research takes music-analytic approaches to dance in order to examine how the kinesthetic and spatial patterns of dance interact musically with the sonic works to which they are performed. Her work also develops new methods in digital dance research and advances the recognition of dance as a musical activity. Leaman holds an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University, an M.A. in Music Theory from CUNY Queen’s College, and a Ph.D. in Music Theory from Yale University, where her dissertation, Analyzing Music and Dance: George Balanchine’s Choreography to Tchaikovsky and the Choreomusical Score, was awarded the Theron Rockwell Field Prize in 2017. She is currently working on a monograph that analyzes the ballets of George Balanchine from a music-theoretic perspective.

George Balanchine and the Art of Musical Choreography

Leaman’s project examines George Balanchine’s choreographies to the music of Bach, Bizet, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky in order to explore Balanchine’s expression of musical artistry through choreography. Tracing connections between the movement patterns in Balanchine’s ballets and their musical scores, this study provides evidence to support long-held intuitions regarding Balanchine’s music-based choreographic process and suggests new ways to understand music-dance interactions in these works. Applying the latest tools of music analysis and digital video editing along with Leaman’s own music-based movement notation, Leaman plans to illustrate how Balanchine both replicated patterns from musical scores in his dances and constructed other patterns to complement the music.


Headshot of Kara Yoo Leaman.

Kara Yoo Leaman. Photo by R. Jones.

Headshot of Kara Yoo Leaman.