Institute of Dance, Drama and Performance Studies project information

Interdisciplinary Improvised Performance Project

Sally Doughty, Reader and Associate Professor in Dance in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities is one of four British dance artists commissioned by Dance4 National Dance Agency. She is researching the development of performance work for mid-scale venues and has challenged preconceptions of improvised dance performance by making work for larger theatres. With financial support from Arts Council England, Dance4 and De Montfort University (DMU), Sally has researched improvised interdisciplinary performance work using graphic and choreographic scores in collaboration with internationally recognised artists Pete Shenton, Professor Craig Vear and Audrey Riley (DMU) and James Woodrow. She has investigated how performance methodologies might offer meaningful shifts in the relationship between audience and performer. The performance titled Renaissance has been tested and previewed at Nottingham Playhouse and a national and international tour is in development.

Sally hosted the Dance Improvisation: The Estranged Cousin symposium at Attenborough Arts, University of Leicester that attracted international speakers, performers and delegates. She has received further Arts Council funding and is currently pursuing her research in collaboration with researchers from Leeds Beckett University. They are addressing notions of the dancing body as a 'living archive'.

Dance and the African Diaspora Project

Members of the Institute are involved in on-going research into Dance and the African Diaspora. This started with British Dance and the African Diaspora, a two-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board. The investigators were Professor Ramsay Burt, De Montfort University, and Professor Christy Adair, York St John University, and Dr. ‘Funmi Adewole, De Montfort University. The project was associated with ADAD (Association of Dance and the African Diaspora), now part of One Dance UK. Its principal outcomes were an exhibition at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool in 2013-14 and an edited book British Dance: Black Routes (2016) with contributions from artists and scholars involved in the project.

This project continues to develop new ways of thinking about the work of dance artists who are working with dance of the African diaspora. It does this through applying post-colonial theory to unpack some of the assumptions and misconceptions arising from the categorisation of ‘Black Dance’. It explored the way recent writing about African-American dance offers ways of recognising and analysing the specificity of the aesthetic forms found in much of the work of British-based dancers who are black. In this way, the project is shifting discussions about the work of British-based dance artists who are black beyond issues concerning funding and cultural policies and initiating new discussions about it as a field of artistic production. It is therefore become concerned with the documentation and analysis of the practices of choreographers working with contemporary African dance forms.

Following on from this initial AHRC-funded project, De Montfort University has become a partner with One Dance UK for the biennial Re:Generations conferences. Project members are researching the history of British based dancers who are Black from Les Ballets Negres in the 1940s to the present. They are also currently developing relationships with dancers and organisations in the African Continent including Universities in Nigeria, South Africa, and with Ecole des Sables in Senegal.

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