While working on Stéphane Mallarmé, I became increasingly interested in his writings on dance, particularly his response to the dancer Loïe Fuller. This led to my discovery of modern dance and of the women who pioneered it as an art form, and I set out to explore rhythm and kinesthetic imagination in dance. These were the starting points for my later research on energy and performer-spectator relations in dance.
Recent areas of research interest:
- uses of energy in movement,
- kinesthetic imagination,
- performer-spectator relations in dance,
- audience research,
- interdisciplinary collaborations between Arts/Humanities and Neuroscience.
In 2007 I published a monograph with Dance Books: Rhythmic Subjects: Uses of Energy in the Dances of Mary Wigman, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham.
Here I expand work carried out in post-1990s Dance Studies, developing innovative material on a burgeoning interdisciplinary topic: the uses of energy in movement. I elaborate an original concept of kinesthetic imagination as an activity which produces changes in habitual patterns of energy usage in movement. These changes reflect and critique norms established in socio-cultural contexts as well as in particular dance traditions.
This project was funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, by the AHRB Research Leave Scheme, and by British Academy grants for travel.
From 2008-2011 I directed the research project ‘Watching Dance: Kinesthetic Empathy’ funded by the AHRC. This multidisciplinary, collaborative research project used audience research and neuroscience to investigate arguments that kinesthetic empathy is central to spectator response to dance. Spectator responses were investigated through a variety of methods, including neurophysiological testing and qualitative/ethnographic audience evaluation.
From 2015-2018 I am Lead Partner on the Leverhulme International Network, ‘Evaluating Methods of Aesthetic Enquiry Across Disciplines’. The Network brings together partners from Concordia, Copenhagen, Manchester, Oxford, Paris and Vienna, working across Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Cognitive Sciences. We aim to generate productive strategies for transdisciplinary study of aesthetics.
My current research is on the sea and multisensory aesthetics in artistic and cultural practices.