about the author

Irina Sirotkina is a cultural historian specialising in the history of the human sciences and, lately, in what she terms, ‘movement culture' including dance

Her first book, Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880−1930 (2002), was awarded the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize from the Modern Language Association. More recently, she published (with Roger Smith), The Sixth Sense of the Avant-garde: Dance, Kinaesthesia and the Arts in Revolutionary Russia (2017).
She writes on the history of dance for adults and children: her last book, Why People Dance, is lavishly illustrated. As a practitioner, she does Musical Movement, a version of free dance born in early-twentieth century Russia under the influence of Isadora Duncan.

The author about herself

My first degree was in psychology; I graduated long ago, when the country was called the Soviet Union. Psychology then was a purely experimental discipline, inclined not to understand but to manipulate people. After a couple of years at the university, I distanced myself from it, taking up the history of psychology and psychiatry rather than psychology as such. This was my way into the critical cultural studies. My first book, published first in English (Diagnosing Literary Genius: Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia) and then in Russian (Classics and Psychiatrists), was devoted to how psychiatrists ‘diagnosed' writers such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky by creating the genre of pathographies, medical cases of famous people.
Later in my life I met free dance of Isadora Duncan, or, more precisely, its version that appeared in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century and was called Musical Movement. I felt that dance brings together the body and mind, which psychology purports to study. I decided to write the story of how early modern dance came to Russia. In doing so, I discovered the concept of movement culture, the term introduced by the avant-garde artist and qualified metal worker, Alexei Gastev in the 1920s.
Since then I have been writing and talking about dance and movement culture to adults and children; my teaching for students and talks for wider audiences are often performative, we talk, move and dance.

Welcome to my site!