Dr. Susan Leigh Foster is a choreographer, dancer, and scholar. Her book Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance (1986) received the DeLaTorre Bueno Prize for scholarship in dance. Her other books include Choreography and Narrative: Ballet's Staging of Story and Desire (1996), Dances that Describe Themselves: The Improvised Choreography of Richard Bull (2003), and Choreographing Empathy: Kinesthesia in Performance (2011). She is also the editor of three anthologies: Choreographing History (1995), Corporealities (1996), and Worlding Dance (2009). With Sue-Ellen Case and Philip Brett, she edited Cruising the Performative: Interventions into the Representation of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Sexuality (1995) and Decomposition: Post-Disciplinary Performance (2000).
Foster began presenting concerts of her own work in 1977 and from 1979–88 she choreographed and directed Discordancers, a California-based company. From 1981–90 she taught as a member of the faculty of the department of dance at Wesleyan University. In 1990 she accepted a position as chair of the dance department at UC/Riverside and built the first doctoral-level program in critical dance studies in the United States. From 1996–2000 Foster held a joint appointment between the UC campuses of Riverside and Davis and she joined the faculty at UCLA in 2001. Her work as a choreographer has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with Choreographer's Fellowships and by the Rockefeller and Jerome Foundations. She is editor, with Ramsay Burt, of the journal Discourses in Dance, published by the Laban Centre in London, where she is also an honorary fellow. In 2007 she received an honorary doctorate from Stockholm University and the Award for Leadership in the Field from the Congress on Research in Dance.
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage asked Foster to present three of her danced lectures at the Live Arts Studio in Philadelphia in 2011. Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland was invited to introduce the performed lectures which became a launching point for the third iteration of the Center's danceworkbook series: Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures.