PhD study and scholarship opportunities – Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE)

PhD study and scholarship opportunities

Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University welcome applications for PhD study with a focus on topics including:

Dance data and digitization; dance and upheaval; dance and new materialism; intangible cultural heritage; copyright and choreography; somatic practices; dance, technology and transmission; motion capture and dance.

A full outline of all current PhD calls can be found below.

We will be pleased to receive applications for start in January 2018 or May 2018. A number of full Studentships are available on a competitive basis and awarded on academic merit. Studentships are offered a full-time basis only for home/EU and overseas candidates.


Details of C-DaRE, our research team and current PhD candidates can be found here:

Full details about how to apply can be found here:

Applicants should make clear if they wish to be considered for a Studentship (full-time mode only).

Please contact Alli Sellors ( for queries.


Dance and Upheaval

We find ourselves in a historical moment of upheavals in coherent political, social, cultural and technological thought and being.  This project is an opportunity to explore how and with what effects dance mediates identity in catastrophe?  How and in what ways is dance a form of conveying individual and collective wholeness, belonging and survival in challenging times? Or the opposite?  How and in what ways can dance engage with grief; enact and facilitate the work of mourning; and provide testimony to upheaval and its effects.   Or not?  Candidates will seek to investigate how dance can contribute to already existing discussions about the mediation and understanding of extreme events and experiences.  These discussions might include those taking place in: Literature and Trauma Studies, Critical Race Theory, Nationalism Studies, International Development, Human Rights Studies, and/or Women’s Studies.  Project proposals can approach these questions from standpoints including: historical, ethnographic, psychoanalytical, deconstruction, textual analysis and practice as research.

Director of Studies: Dr Victoria Thoms


Motion Capture and Dance; visualising embodiment
Motion capture is becoming ubiquitous in performance practice, playing a role in how the body becomes data, is visualised and in turn stimulates an expansion of interface development that impacts on how dance is encountered, viewed and analysed.  This project examines the choices artists make in terms of composition, environment & duration when working with motion capture and related technologies to explore new questions about embodied human expression and communication.  This call encourages proposals from those who wish to work in an interdisciplinary way.  Questions may include: How can motion capture translate into artistic performance works? How might motion capture & performance influence the development of human/computer interfaces?  What is the viewer experience and what are the critical frameworks needed to describe & document the work?

Director of Studies: Dr Hetty Blades


Post-Humanism in Dance and Performance Art

Research in new materialism as well as post-human studies have recently taken the negotiation of human life under scrutiny, deconstructing a subject-centered perspective by regarding the interrelatedness of human and non-humans like animals, objects, and things. In the wake of this, issues such as gender, identity, biopolitics, and ethics are highlighted by promoting alternative life-concepts that queer traditional understandings of a human-centred world. In the performing arts, we can observe similar developments when dancers or performers are dealing with for example: animals on stage; testing machinery or tools intended to shift away from human actors and let the things ‘take over’; or respectively dealing with interdependencies created by such encounters in terms of a partnership of equals. Research projects that investigate how dance (or from within the broader field of performing arts) can contribute to experiments in the realm of the post-human in relation to the respective theories are invited for submission.

Director of Studies: Dr Susanne Foellmer


ICH and contemporary performance: a legal exploration

Over recent years, and particularly since the introduction of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, legal academic interest in intangible cultural heritage has grown.  While the challenges of this new intangible cultural heritage (ICH) regime are recognised what most commentators tend agree on is the importance of ICH to contemporary society – one that lies in its ‘creative engagement with the past in a present; a past that is manifested in cultural practices and revived traditions that reflect contemporary identities’.  However, current focus of ICH is mostly on what might be calledtraditional forms of ICH; traditional cultural expressions; traditional knowledge; andtraditional practices.  This is paradoxical as the trajectory for developments within the cultural heritage ecosystem is away from the traditional to the contemporary: away from the objectification of heritage, to thinking about heritage as processual, relational and intangible; and away from a focus on the intrinsic value of heritage, to heritage being valued because of its relevance to contemporary society.  The questions for this PhD are twofold: first it is whether the current legal framework for ICH can accommodate and support these contemporary forms of ICH and to consider the place of dance within this framework; and the second is as to the interface between these contemporary forms of ICH and copyright.  Uniquely for a law PhD, candidates will based in the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University, and will join a team of researchers and PhD students who have many contacts with dance and performance artists and companies, in the UK and world-wide all of whom are engaged in practices that could form part of contemporary ICH thus significantly enriching the research process.

Director of Studies: Professor Charlotte Waelde


Copyright and choreography: a UK based historical investigation

While there is a rich and varied literature which focuses on the history of dance in many of its forms, historical records around the intersection between copyright and dance are sparse: while dance is protected within the current UK legislation this has not always been the position.  Case law on dance is also scarce, beyond a few rather old cases dealing mainly with questions of ownership.  This is in contrast to a literature that has emerged most notably from the US charting the emergence of the protection of choreography by copyright and setting this against the race, gender and class biases that influenced choreographers’ claims of originality, authorship and ownership.  Looking through the lens of copyright law and through archival research, the purpose of this project is to discover the history of the relationship between dance and copyright in the UK: how did copyright protection for dance arise, and how was it used by the community?  What were the socio-legal, economic and political tensions that arose as the legal framework developed, and what drove that development?  What impact does that history have on the relationship between contemporary choreography and copyright?  Uniquely for a law PhD, candidates will based in the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University, and will join a team of researchers and PhD who have many contacts with archives, dance and performance artists and companies, in the UK and world-wide thus significantly enriching the research process.

Director of Studies: Professor Charlotte Waelde


Somatic Synergies

Applicants are invited to consider the nature of the moving body and the implications of technology for dance transmission.  The potential synergies of somatics and technology provide an opportunity for innovative proposals that span approaches to dance, movement, choreography and performance practice that have these key foci: virtual and augmented reality; motion capture, digital visualisation, realtime visualisation and immersive experience.  Questions and research topics might address what dance, choreographic and somatic practice might become in the 21st century through exploration in new environments, locations and dimensions.  How might the dancer’s body be developed or altered through their engagement with performance technologies and relationships between digital and 3D stereo technologies.  New perspectives on the role dance knowledge might play in the creation of haptic interfaces and embodied interactive design and the role of practice based research in collaboration.

Director of Studies: Dr Emma Meehan


Exploring the potential for digital dance scholarship

Studies in digital dance since the 1990s mainly focused on prototypical collaborations between artists and technologists, exemplified by the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media.  More philosophical reflection emerged in the 2000s alongside a number of significant documentation and digitization projects initiated by artists concerned with increasing understanding of dance (see Transmission in Motion, ed. M. Bleeker 2016).  Digital archiving initiatives, such as Siobhan Davies Replay published in 2009, are making inroads into the domain of intangible cultural heritage.  In the meantime, other areas in the humanities had begun to use new methods to study and probe materials contained in digitised objects of study.  The research often emphasizes pattern searching, distant reading (Moretti 2013), and visualisation.  However, dance scholarship has yet to engage in these digital methods and to a large extent has remained outside developments in digital humanities.  This may be about to change, as the aforementioned documentation turn in dance has accumulated a number of diverse dance-related databases through projects such as Motion Bank ( while new initiatives like Movement on the Move  ( support the integration of digital with traditional methods of dance studies, e.g. historical and sociological.  This PhD is intended to consider existing databases, the building of new databases and other starting points as a premise for exploring the potential for an emergent dance scholarship using digital methods.  The student will be encouraged to develop their own approach in response to underpinning questions such as: What are the affordances of databases for dance scholarship? How might digital methods explore questions at the heart of dance studies?  How effective are digital methods for the scholarly interrogation of dance?  And how does the analysis of dance data shed light on the nature of the form?  As well as being interested in these questions posed by dance’s transformation into data, skills in computational methods, digital or software studies approaches and/or knowledge of the digital humanities are advantageous.

Director of Studies: Dr Hetty Blades/Dr Scott deLahunta


Somatic Practices: Expanding the Field

Somatic practices applied in health, education and creative fields (and overlaps between these) have become established areas of practice and research, across Europe, North and South America, as well as parts of Asia.  This call invites PhD proposals at the cutting edge of research on somatic practices, which reflect on the status quo of current methods and topics, critiquing the field and pushing boundaries of the potential of somatics to engage with global issues.  The challenge somatics have offered to Foucault’s ‘disciplinary society’ has been well rehearsed, such as tackling disciplinary dance training methods.  However, less well explored are more recent developments in biopolitical theory in relation to somatics, or indeed the relationship between somatic practices and the field of contemporary performance philosophy.  Further, somatic approaches have been critiqued for subsuming contemporary dance technique training required by many commercial companies.  This has been widely discussed in the British media, however a rigorous response from scholars in the field of somatics has yet to emerge, debating the value of somatics in a changing landscape of performance making and arts funding.  While studies on somatic work in the UK and US have been extensive, there is a widening gap for research on somatic practices in different forms/sites around the globe.  Case studies are needed beyond the current centres for somatic discourse, responding to specific artistic, social, cultural and political issues.  Cross-cultural comparisons could also examine shared values of somatic practices, despite local differences, in dealing with issues such as globalization, ecological issues and emerging developments in technologies such as artificial consciousness.  The implications of new media for somatic-based performances have begun to be discussed, although research needs to be undertaken to explore how somatics offer ways of understanding the digital landscape as well as strategies for dealing with these new parts of our intermedial lives.  We therefore welcome both practice-based projects and non-practice-based project proposals that extend knowledge in the domain of somatic practices, including but not restricted to:

–          Somatic practices and performance philosophy

–          Somatics, technique and contemporary performance

–          Somatic practices in social and cultural context

–          Somatic practices and the bio-virtual

Director of Studies: Dr Emma Meehan