In 2006 John Cooper graduated from Clare College, Cambridge University where he read English. In 2008 he received an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and later that year took up a Mellon Fellowship in the History of Art department at Yale. John is currently a research assistant to Joe Roach at the Yale Center for British Art for the project ‘Art and the Stage in Britain: Inigo Jones to David Hockney’.
His dissertation is entitled Imperial Balls: An Art History of Sex, War, and Dancing in India, England and the Caribbean, 1800-1850. It is a formal study of the aesthetics of movement across the worlds affected by British imperialism. It deals with nautch dancing in India, colonial ballet in England, and social dancing in the Caribbean. Treating dance performances as symbolic expressions of the social and political orders in which they take place, the dissertation examines the colonial translation of dances into images and objects for reproduction, circulation and possession. This leads to a critique of the ways British imperialism made expressions of itself in dance and dealt with the dancing of others.