Projects and achievements

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.

dance-african-diaspora-awardDance of the African Diaspora Lifetime Achievement Award

Twenty-five years of tireless work to change perceptions of dance of the African diaspora have earned national recognition for ‘Funmi Adewole at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU). The Dance researcher and lecturer has won the Dance of the African Diaspora Lifetime Achievement Award by One Dance UK, the national body representing the dance sector. The award recognises ‘Funmi’s professional achievements, as well as her dedication to building a legacy and changing perceptions in the UK.

Crisis and Employment: Tools and Methodologies For Your future) is a 26 month project funded under the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership scheme (CErTiFY)

Led by Lyndsey Bakewell and supported by Louise Peacock and Adam Ainsworth, CErTiFY (Crisis and Employment: Tools and Methodologies For Your future) is a 26-month project funded under the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership scheme. Bringing together researchers from the UK, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Greece and Lithuania, this project seeks to understand what tools are required to enable young people to enter creative arts jobs in the current climate. With issues such as difficult financial climates, migration restrictions, European membership questions, and an increase in the work force, this project looks to creative practices, such as storytelling and theatre, to enable the recognition and promotion of non-formal skills as a means of securing future employment.

An Exploration of Mental Health and Resilience Narratives of Migrants in India Using Community Theatre Methodology 2017-2019


This project was an innovative, interdisciplinary and collaborative global public health partnership which aimed to explore the mental health challenges and opportunities for resilience for internal migrants in Pune, India using theatre storytelling practices. Our focus was on co-creation of mental health and resilience knowledge for raising mental health awareness and support through community theatre engagement with migrant slum dwellers. The project resulted in two international conferences in India and the UK, a presentation at The Houses of Parliament and to date two peer reviewed articles in international journals, including Crossley, M, Barrett, A, Brown, B, Coope, J and Raghavan, R (2019). Systematic review of applied theatre practice in the Indian context of mental health, resilience and well-being. Applied Theatre Research, 7(2): 211-232. 

Principal Investigator

Professor Raghu Raghavan, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK


  • Professor Sivakami Muthusamy, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Professor Brian Brown, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
  • Dr Mark Crossley, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
  • Dr Nilesh Gawde, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Professor Santosh Chaturvedi, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, India

New Audio Forms for Performance

Kate Chapman podcast projectWorking in partnership with three regional theatres and a number of theatre artists and activists, Kate and fellow producer Pippa Frith are developing a three podcast series to explore new audio forms for performance. The first of these projects will be writer and director Leo Skilbeck and their company Milk Present, creating a cabaret feast for the ears: The Pervert’s Podcast. Each episode will focus on a specific object from the Bishopsgate Institute’s LGBTQ+ archive and a show-stopping audio response from a leading queer cabaret artist. Partly recorded live at the RVT in London but with the podcast listener at the centre of the experience, the series will be written and hosted by Leo and will feature as a regular guest activist and film-maker, Campbell X. Also in development is artist and activist, Suriya Aisha’s series #Sickbabe a chat podcast with a difference about the experience of invisible disability informed by the intersection of race and gender and the impacts of capitalism. All three pilot series are funded by Arts Council England and a regional theatre partner. The process is a practice-based enquiry for artists and producers, exploring performative interpretations of the audio space, the concept of hosting and the possibilities of intimacy with a new listening audience.