Daniel Callahan

Image of Daniel Callahan

Daniel Callahan is an Assistant Professor in the Music Department at Boston College.  He is a musicologist who focuses on choreomusicality, or the interrelationship between music and dance. His teaching and research engage theater/performance, cinema/media, and gender/sexuality studies. He comes to Boston College from the University of Chicago, where he was the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Music and the Humanities in the College. He received his PhD from Columbia University, where he was supported by a 2012 Whiting Dissertation Fellowship and a Beinecke Scholarship.

He is currently writing a book, The Dancer from the Music, that proposes choreomusicality as an exemplary lens for viewing the meeting of music’s ineffability with the agency, identity, and physical reality of a listening and performing body. Bridging the oddly wide gulf between music and dance studies, the project spans the history of US modern dance—from Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan to Merce Cunningham and Mark Morris—to examine how dancers negotiated modernist expectations and more personal desires while simultaneously giving bodily form to sacralized music, whether Bach or Cage, spirituals or Schumann. Papers from this project have been presented at national meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology/Congress on Research and Dance, and the Society for Dance History Scholars, which awarded him the 2011 Selma Jeanne Cohen Award. He co-founded the AMS Music and Dance Study Group, and organized and chaired its inaugural panel at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh.

Choreomusicality is the focus of his first book but not the limit of his research. His 2012 AMS paper revealed how a musical that Leonard Bernstein planned but never penned (on James M. Cain’s hardboiled Serenade, about a musician undone by his homosexual desires) illuminates decisions the composer made in both West Side Storyand his personal life; this is the beginning of a second book project on Bernstein’s multitasking and identity management. Other research areas include the history of aesthetic empathy; earlier Schoenberg (Arnold Schoenberg Center Avenir Research Fellow, 2004); later Tina Turner (the subject of both his MA thesis and his earliest musical memories); and the prehistory, history, and present of the music video (on which he will offer a class for Boston College's undergrads next year).

Bio courtesy of his faculty page, here.

The Dancer from the Music: Choreomusicalities in Twentieth-Century American Modern Dance
Columbia Degrees: 
PhD, Historical Musicology