Dance and Somatic Practice

Music and Performing Arts

The Dance and Somatic Practice Research Group at UCLan brings together the research concerns and activities of undergraduate and postgraduate staff. 

We are a close-knit team of practitioner-researchers, and our own extensive experiences of community building, foregrounds are propensity for collaboration and partnership development.

We work independently and collaboratively through various methodologies including Action, Practice as, and Practice–led Research. The team seeks to develop, deepen and disseminate our understanding of somatic, choreographic and pedagogical practices. These strands are closely interwoven within our teaching and research and through our strong inquiry-based ethos. All of our team members are engaged in inter-disciplinary and collaborative research inquiries. The social relevance of practice is prioritised in much of the research group’s work. From the community dance perspective, engagement, accessibility, and opportunity are key, while for somatics, embodiment, self-efficacy and well-being are central concerns.

Research concerns

The Dance and Somatic Practice Research Group holds a number of crisscrossing, interweaving and overlapping collaborative and individual research concerns.

Clusters include:

1. Dwelling as a practice
2. Somatic Practice
3. Community and Collaboration

Individual research concerns include:

Dr Sara Giddens’ research employs site-specific and collaborative choreographic practices as a way to develop performance works and ways of dialoguing, bespoke to specific communities and places, most recently through the Dream-Walks, Gymnast and Still Moving: Moving Still (2009-2015). Her work has been published and disseminated widely across a number of disciplines and events, most recently at the Between Spaces Symposium, University of Chichester and the ISPA Conference, Manchester (July 2017).

Liz Long‘s research explores somatic movement practice within community, health and dance teaching and performance settings, focusing on creating environments to allow others to reconnect with embodied experience. Recently Liz has collaborated with Ruth Quinn from Trinity Hospice in Blackpool to develop a movement workshop and dance performance focused on developing community, authenticity and embodied experiences within dance performance (April 2017). As well as contributing to the research cluster focused on the idea of dwelling, Liz has recently started a personal project focused on how, as a dance artist and somatic practitioner, she can reclaim ownership of her embodied healing during the process of pregnancy and birth. Read more about Liz.

Lucy Nicholson is interested in the non-trained dancer. Her practice is rooted in a Laban-Bartenieff approach and has particular interest in developing self-awareness and discovery, promoting the body as a valid starting point for creative work within a community context. Read more about Lucy.

Ruth Spencer’s research explores creative dance practice in diverse settings with people of all ages and abilities. Through a person-centred approach, Ruth encourages individuals to discover and explore their own ways of thinking and moving, and through this build relationship with others, whilst debunking myths that surround dance practice and pedagogy. Past work has focused on work with young children on the autistic spectrum, exploring the potential of dance to support pre-verbal communication. More recently, Ruth has been working with Dr. Sara Giddens and Liz Long exploring the potential of dwelling as a creative and pedagogic approach. Ruth is also working with Linda Tompkins (UCLan Community Engagement Manager) on the Engaging Communities – Dance Participation Project. Read more about Ruth.

Kerstin Wellhöfer investigates the articulation and development of somatic practices in various arenas of artistic, pedagogic and political practice. Curiosity about embodied engagement in political work, (most recently introduced at the Dance and Somatic Practice Conference in Coventry 2017), explorations in refining approaches, methodologies and engagement in dance and performance practice as well as the personal and public journey of artistic inquiry, inform her developing palette of current investigations and collaborations. Read more about Kerstin.

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