Dwelling as a practice

Music and Performing Arts - Dance and Somatic Practice

The Dwelling as a Practice research cluster builds on the PhD findings of Dr Sara Giddens. Working with dance team members Ruth Spencer and Lizzie Long, this research cluster has been actively exploring connections between areas of their practice through the notion of attentive dwelling, which  Martin Heidegger (1978) argues is a precursor to reflection.

Recent dissemination of this work includes a workshop and presentation at The NUI International Conference, Galway (May 2017), and work with graduates and postgraduates alongside Dr Jo Guiver (from UCLan’s School of Travel and Tourism) as part of a Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) award in June 2017. This cluster has recently published an article to the Journal for Dance and Somatic Practices (July 2018) and is currently developing work with Dance4 and the International Centre for Choreographic Practices (UK) which will be disseminated at Dance Exchange, Birmingham in June 2018.

Choreographic perspective

Choreographic perspective

Research in Real Time

Dr. Sara Giddens, Lizzie Long and Ruth Spencer facilitated a gentle explorative workshop employing attentive dwelling at the NUI International Conference in Galway in May 2017.

Galway Bay

Dwelling as a practice in Galway Bay

Complementing their conference contribution paper and funded by UoA, the workshop reflected upon how creating spaces for slow-ing and still-ing might inform and empower new ways of collaborative working.

Incorporating both research and pedagogy, the practitioner-researchers facilitated thinking about how attentive dwelling could help us to enable and engage in a useful and meaningful dialoguing process.

They considered how dwelling might be employed as a practice in terms of choreography and pedagogy,  reflecting both on how we teach and facilitate students, and how we might work with and through the body to support this.

Slowing down – inviting attentive dwelling

Dr Sara Giddens, Ruth Spencer and Hannah Tongue from Dance Performance & Teaching have been collaborating with colleagues from the Institute of Transport and Tourism and Engineering on the idea of attentive dwelling.

Working with Dr Jo Guiver from the Institute of Transport and Tourism and PhD student Justyna Urbanczyk from Engineering, they have reflecting upon how creating spaces for slow-ing and still-ing, with regard to pedagogy and research, might inform and empower ways of working collaboratively and help us engage in useful and meaningful dialogue.

These processes were presented to UCLan staff from a wide range of disciplines in a CELT conference in December 2017 in order to begin to explore how a shift in our modus operandi might enrich and deepen our relationships to learning and teaching.

Dwelling as a practice workshop

Dwelling as a practice workshop

Disrupting research practices

In January 2018, Dr Sara Giddens, Ruth Spencer and Justyna Urbanczyk facilitated an experiential workshop at the transdisciplinary Rethinking Research: Disrupting and Challenging Research Practices conference at Coventry University.

Discussions with colleagues from a wide range of educational settings reveal a huge tension between our actual working lives and our embodied practices. Our multifaceted roles often collide and compromise one another; we are time-strapped, deadline-driven, dialogue-poor, email-chasing, computer-tied, committed educators and researchers, who need (and want) to encourage ourselves and students to play, explore and discover, to respond intuitively, and work from a balanced mind/body relationship.

As Guy Claxton reminds us: “Learning – the process of coming to know – emerges from uncertainty.”

Through the workshop, they considered how might dwelling might support us to encourage ways of working within which ‘not knowing’, curiosity and inquiry are valued? Where questions are sometimes answered with more questions?

The UCLan researchers’ input framed how their research challenges the current status quo and has the potential to rebalance attention.

In the workshop, they employed dwelling to reconsider and wrestle with individual and collaborative relationships to research. Questions that were considered included: How can we resist the current pace of working? How might a shift in our modus operandi enrich and deepen relationships and thinking? What will we gain?

The future

Work by the research cluster on Dwelling as a Practice continues both in the UK and abroad. In 2018, the team will be visiting the University of Malta to explore the topic further at the Dance Studios Association 2018 Conference.

People behind Dwelling as a practice

Dr Sara Giddens is a choreographer and creative facilitator. She also teaches on the Dance Performance and Teaching course at the University of Central Lancashire. Having worked on the Articulating Dance project, as part of Choreographic Lab, Sara recently completed a practice-based PhD in 2015, funded by AHRC and co-hosted by Dance4 and Middlesex University. She continues to develop, make and tour performance-based work with Prof Simon Jones (Bristol University) through their company Bodies in Flight (1990).

Liz Long is passionate about developing creativity and the imagination through movement and somatic practices, enquiring into how developing self-awareness through reflective practice improves health and wellbeing. This viewpoint underscores her activities as an Independent Dance Artist, Somatic Movement Educator and a Lecturer in Higher Education.  She is interested in learning and development within education for children and working in community and health settings with adults.

Ruth Spencer makes, performs and facilitates dance. As a Lecturer on the BA (Hons) Dance Performance and Teaching course at the University of Central Lancashire Ruth oversees the Education and Community based dance practice. Ruth’s own work with organisations such as Cheshire Dance, Dance Manchester and the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) focuses on inclusion and improvisation, and how they support creativity.

Hannah Tongue is a freelance dance artist working all over the North West. She graduated from the Dance Performance and Teaching degree in 2016 and has since worked as the Dance Development Artist Intern for the course. Facilitating creative workshops within schools and communities is one of Hannah’s main passions. Hannah has recently set up her own project called Finding Movers and has taken this into schools to develop dance and English literature with hard to reach pupils. She continues to explore performance and training opportunities within her career and works alongside many other organisations and artists to develop opportunities for young people and communities.

Justyna Urbanczyk is an MPhil/PhD Candidate at UCLan. Her research explores the perceptions of sustainable ways of living, people’s attitudes and access to sustainable options. Since graduating in 2015 in Religion, Culture and Society with Philosophy, Justyna was involved in student support projects within the university, particularly Health Champions and Peer Mentoring. As a researcher for the WellSust project, she continues to explore the factors that affect students’ well-being at UCLan.