VK Preston

Assistant Professor
UC A307, University College, 15 King's College Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7


VK Preston is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. VK is the recipient of the 2018 Gertrude Lippincott Award for best essay from the international Dance Studies Association and a 2019 SSHRC Insight Development Grant for the research project “Intangible Baroques: New Directions in Seventeenth-Century Performance Research.” Dr. Preston’s writing appears in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Reenactment, Performance Research, Theatre Journal, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theatre, and Canadian Theatre Review. VK’s work on the witch trials, performativity, and dance emerged through residencies and fellowships at the École normale supérieure and La Cité internationale des arts in Paris.

Dr. Preston came to the University of Toronto after an appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor at Brown University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies department and SSHRC-funded postdoctoral fellowships at McGill University’s Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas and the Sense Lab. After completing a Ph.D. at Stanford University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, VK was awarded an early career fellowship at the Australian Research Council’s History of Emotions Project and a short-term research fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library. In 2014, Alanna Thain and VK Preston won the Richard Plant award for best article in English on a topic in Canadian theatre and performance studies.

VK’s current writing project is a book manuscript on early modern performance, archives, and critical dance studies. Articles and book chapters on twenty-first century visual art, theatre, and choreography are now forthcoming and in review. This research entangles baroques, settler/Indigenous studies, environmental humanities, non-binary gender, the witch trials, and new materialisms, taking up geographies and research questions entangling early modern France and North America, French and Francophone studies, dis/ability, and queer performance. 

Teaching: performance historiography (1500-1850), critical dance studies, theatre history, archival research methods, book history, performance studies, and political dramaturgy. 

VK has worked in many research communities and seminars that embrace research approaches bringing arts and scholarship into conversation. These include the Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI), the University of the Arts’ dance MFA low-residency program, Mellon Dance Studies in/and the Humanities, the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research, Early Modern Cross-Cultural Conversions, the Sense Lab, KlangKunstBühne, and Mobile Akademie.

VK is a member of the executive at the Institute for Dance Studies and comes to performance research by way of professional dance training: Tanz im August, American Dance Festival, Le Groupe de la Place Royale, and Les Ateliers de Danse Moderne de Montréal (now l'École de danse contemporaine de Montréal). 

Selected work

Preston, VK. 2020. “Convening Muses and Turning Tables: Reimagining a Danced Politics of Time in Jordan Bennett and Marc Lescarbot.” In Futures of Dance Studies, edited by Susan Manning, Janice Ross, and Rebecca Schneider, 269-285. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2020. UW Press link here.

Preston, VK. 2018. “Reproducing Witchcraft: Thou Shalt Not Perform a Witch to Live,” TDR / The Drama Review (62)1 (T237). Special issue: On reproduction. Ed., Rebecca Schneider. 143-159. University of Toronto link here.

Preston, VK. 2017. “Baroque Relations: Performing Silver and Gold in Daniel Rabel’s Ballets of the Americas.” In The Oxford Handbook of Reenactment. Ed., Mark Franko. New York: Oxford University Press, 285-310. University of Toronto Library link here.

Indelible Refusal: Bodies, Performances, and Walking Resistance, with Stephanie Springgay (OISE) https://walkinglab.org/indelible-refusal/

Preston, VK. 2016. “A Dictionary in the Archives: Translating and Transcribing Silenced Histories in French and Wendat” (Performance Research 21(5), Trans/Performance, special issue, ed. Amelia Jones), 85-88. UTL link here.

Preston, VK. 2015. “How do I touch this text?: Or, the Interdisciplines Between, Dance and Theatre in Early Modern Archives.” In The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater. Ed., Nadine George-Graves. New York: Oxford University Press, 56-89. University of Toronto Library link here.
Non-U of T users link here.

Editorial Board for the online, open access journal Imagined Theatres and contributor to the book project Imagined Theatres: Writing for a Theoretical Stage (2017), ed. Dan Sack. New York: Routledge. (University of Toronto Library, full access). 


PhD, Stanford University
MA, SUNY Binghamton
BA, Concordia University