Spatial Relations

“Sara’s research, sitting firmly within concerns about embodiment, space and social relations, is especially timely as a comment on and strategy for living together in a post-COVID world and the role dance will take therein. This is enhanced by Sara’s robust national and international networks of both high achieving arts practitioners and leading interdisciplinary academics.”

Victoria Thoms, Professor at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) Coventry University

Dancers exploring ways of positioning themselves physically in the Van Abbemuseum

My transdisciplinary research (across dance, choreography, architecture, design and sociology) considers the politics of space. In other words, how the spaces we work and reside in have influence in terms of who has access to those spaces (whether in an organisation or institution). I am fascinated with how space is experienced or ‘felt’ and how our relationships within those spaces speak to themes of equity, diversity and inclusion. 

This way of thinking is directly connected to my background in dance and as a choreographer – who thinks through space and experiences the world through spatial and temporal qualities.

My research is informed by my dance and expanded choreographic practice. My research asks pressing questions about the nature of human interaction that finds articulation through my working with people in cultural organizations, academia, nonprofits, businesses and boards.

My current concern is how dance and expanded choreography, as relational and site-based practices, change the imaginary of relationships between humans, non-humans and material objects in ways that can be more inclusive, diverse, equitable and sustainable.

Solutions emerge from specific, human centered experiences that detail the kinds of relations that the artist offers.

My argument centers around the way in which personal ways of knowing are negotiated through ones’ embodied social-spatial experiences (i.e. ‘lived experience’) and, therefore, needs to be considered in our contemporary moment.

More can be read on the Blog posting Qualities for Being (together): Things Dance Artists Know and the World Needs

“It appears that people, in their daily lives, merely skim the surface of a world that has been previously mapped out and constructed for them to occupy, rather than contributing through their movements to its ongoing formation”.

Tim Ingold in Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (2011:44)

Research Projects

New Role for Dance

photo by Christian Kipp

This project asks “How could the learned and innate skills of dancers be transferable and of service to other fields of work?”. A project I conceived and curated involving a number of artists and invited guests. I facilitated conversations between dance artists and industry experts from architecture, engineering, dramaturgy and technology to look at the role of dance artists’ skills in fields beyond their immediate discipline. As part of the project, the artists worked with 5 words (empathy, care, play, courage and resiliency) that described the skills of dancers and to see how their own process would lead to images that might suggest or emerge from these words.

“I have been greatly impressed by Sara on a number of fronts: her confident sincere demeanour; her superior intellect and knowledge; her ability to articulate difficult concepts clearly without reducing their complexity; her wide-ranging and first-rate practical knowledge and expertise; and ultimately, her desire to build a bridge between impressive practical understanding and its rigorous and original theorisation.

Victoria Thoms, Professor at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) Coventry University

Research Roles

University of New South Wales Associate Researcher, Precarious Movements

University of Cambridge Affiliate Researcher, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy

Fest n Fest Associate Researcher with H2Dance to explore the impact of arts on the mental health of young people

Royal Holloway University of London Post Doctoral Researcher working alongside sociologist Dr Louise Ashley

Clod Ensemble Associate Researcher

Tate Modern Associate Researcher

Coventry University Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) Post Doctoral Research Candidate

“As a researcher Sara brings a depth of experience as a dancer, choreographer and academic to the projects she engages with and has a keen interest in the civic role of the cultural and creative sector. Working with a group of researchers from a range of disciplines, Sara has helped Clod Ensemble reflect on our work in the context of contemporary dance and expanded choreographic practice. Sara asks great questions and is an enthusiastic collaborator – both communicative and rigorous.”

Suzy Willson, Director
Clod Ensemble