Dr. McMains is a dance scholar and artist whose work centers partnered social dance practices and their theatrical expression, with particular emphasis on Latin American and Afro-diasporic traditions in the United States. She examines how commodification, globalization, and recontextualization in competition alter social dances traditions and shape experiences of gender, race, and ethnicity.
She is currently a Professor of Dance at University of Washington in Seattle. She received her Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from the University of California at Riverside and a B.A. in Women's Studies from Harvard University. She served on the Congress on Research in Dance Board of Directors from 2008-2011. She was appointed as a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellow for 2013-2016 and a Floyd & Delores Jones Endowed Professorship in the Arts in 2020.
Her first book, Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry (Wesleyan, 2006) won the 2008 Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) Outstanding Publication Award. Her second book, Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce (Oxford University Press, 2015) chronicles histories of salsa and mambo dancing in New York, South Florida, and Los Angeles. Her research on rumba, salsa, swing, ballroom dance, and tango has appeared in: TDR: The Drama Review, Dance Research Journal, the Journal of Dance Education, Dance Research, The Dance Chronicle, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity, The Routledge Dance Studies Reader, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and Making Caribbean Dance: Continuity and Creativity in Island Cultures.
Juliet is currently building a Social Dance Pedagogy Co-Laboratory to investigate application of critical pedagogy theories to social dance teaching, bringing her own teaching and writing on issues such as open-role dancing and affirmative consent in the classroom into dialogue with work of community-based social dance teachers. Juliet is also a choreographer, dance filmmaker, and avid practitioner of Argentine tango.