Ariel Osterweis earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in Anthropology at Columbia University. She is on faculty at The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where she teaches undergraduate and graduate Critical Dance Studies and Performance Studies courses, including The Extreme Body in Performance, The Anthropology of Dance, Choreography and Textuality, and Clubbing. She has also taught at UC Berkeley, Wayne State University, and Skidmore College, forging interdisciplinary relationships between the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
Osterweis’ writing on embodied performance theorizes the socio-political intersection of race, sexuality, labor, movement, violence, pleasure, and aesthetics. Her book manuscript, Body Impossible: Desmond Richardson and the Politics of Virtuosity (Oxford University Press), examines issues of blackness, virtuosity, class, gender, and queer masculinities in contemporary dance. Osterweis is developing her next monograph, Prophylactic Aesthetics: Latex, Spandex, and Sexual Anxieties Performed (University of Michigan Press) as well as a book of interviews called Disavowing Virtuosity, Performing Aspiration: Dance and Performance Interviews (Routledge), which interrogates how African diasporic, mixed-race, feminist, and transgender art and performance disavow dance-based virtuosity.
She also researches contemporary dance in Africa, and developed the concept of “geo-choreography” in her article on necropolitics in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Osterweis’ publications appear in Dance Research Journal, TDR/The Drama Review, Women and Performance: a journal of feminist theory, e-misférica, Theatre Survey, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen (OUP, 2014), Choreographies of 21st Century Wars (OUP, 2016), Trajal Harrell’s Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (XL), and The Futures of Dance Studies (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020).
She was Book Reviews Editor of Dance Research Journal for several years and has served on various committees and boards in New York City, Detroit, and Los Angeles, including Dance/NYC and Dirty Looks. She is a co-founding member of the CalArts School of Dance Anti-Racism Task Force.
Having trained at San Francisco Ballet School, The Martha Graham School, and The Ailey School on full scholarship, Osterweis danced professionally with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Mia Michaels R.A.W., Heidi Latsky, Fred Ho, and disability activist Homer Avila. She has also choreographed works (including a piece after the language poetry of Robert Grenier and an installation for Hayv Kahraman), served as dramaturg for John Jasperse and Narcissister, and most recently performed with Queer|Art Prize winner, Julie Tolentino. Osterweis co-produced Talent Show at REDCAT Theater with Sharon Lockhart, is working on an experimental memoir called Bad Koreans (minor mourning), and is developing a performance institute.
Osterweis is a mixed-race/Korean American/queer/lesbian mother and currently lives in Los Angeles.