The Dance and Somatic research team at UCLanDance focus around three areas of research. They have been divided into specific clusters;
Cluster 1: Dwelling-as-practice:
Building on the PHD explorations/findings of Dr. Sara Giddens, now working with dance team members, Ruth Spencer, Lizzie Long, Kerstin Wellhofer and Hannah Tongue alongside Jo Guiver (Travel and Tourism) and Justyna Urbanczyk (Engineering) this research cluster is considering the relevance of dwelling as a pedagogical and research- based practice, investigating the very essence of how we live. Fast paced, media driven living impacts on how we think and engage with the everyday, which in turn impacts on how we interact with each other. Dwelling investigates different ways of being… how physical presence through stillness can build new possibilities. This research cluster is growing through practice and dialogue, involving individual and collaborative practice and builds on the strengths of the already dynamic and supportive dance team based at UCLan, exploring connections between areas of their practice through the notion of attentive dwelling, which Heidegger (1943) argues is a pre-cursor to reflection.
● shared practice widely through experiential workshops and conference presentations, including most recently Slowing and stilling: foregrounding process in performance practices, held at Royal Birmingham
Conservatoire in partnership with Birmingham City University (2018); Contra: Dance and Conflict, The Dance Studies Association (DSA), University of Malta (2018); Rethinking Research: Disrupting and Challenging Research Practices Conference, Coventry University (2018); Sharing Excellence in Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Central Lancashire (2017); Between Spaces Symposium, University of Chichester (2017); Practice-as-Research NOW, The NUI International Conference, Galway (2017) and published an article ‘Employing dwelling to reconsider individual and collaborative relationships to pedagogical practice’ in The Journal of Dance and Somatic Practice. Intellect. Issue 10.1.
● Sharing the excellence of the work within the team and disseminating how this learning informs research and impacts on current pedagogical and philosophical debates, supporting dance and broader practice and pedagogy for students and staff, developing critically reflective and embodied learners and facilitators and seeking to create a culture shift in our learning environments with benefits for all.
● Tapping in to broader societal questions around the fast paced nature of our existence – it is important to note here that dwelling does not mean stopping. It explores engaging in activities and tasks with greater care, producing sustainable outcomes and seeks to provide a methodological imperative that models new ways of being within a working culture and improves staff and students wellbeing.
● Working actively in partnership with local, regional, national and international communities to promote dance/movement based activities which foreground equality of access and quality of living.
● Contributing to a growing body of theoretical knowledge to promote practice that is human centred, honouring and providing a practical example of inclusive practice
● Profiling the work of the university through partnership with communities, and shaping current artistic, pedagogical and sociological debates.
The Cluster received a Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) award in June 2017.
Cluster 2: Applications of Somatic Practice.
Of key interest to postgraduate staff is the validation of subjectivity and embodiment in education, health and social care research. Current research is in collaboration with The Psycho-social Research Unit and colleagues in Social Work. In response to the high burn-out rate amongst social work professionals, a pilot project has been set up with trainee social workers, service-users and carers.
In addition, Embodying Health: A National survey, a field review of somatic practitioners working in the NHS, will be published in Autumn 2017. This work will be extended through conducting two studies with dance and somatic practitioners working in hospitals. A focus of this research is on the practice itself and its impact on other health professionals such as, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
Cluster 3: Community and Collaboration
This cluster involves many of the Dance Team as they continue to extend and develop their work across a wide-range of schools and departments across UCLan and beyond. Examples include our collaborations with Travel and Tourism and The Psycho-social Research Unit, and Lucy Nicholson’s work with UCLan's Social Work Department which, as the movement specialist, sees her developing work within a creative writing and performance project called Reading The World, a strength-based project working with vulnerable adults from the local community.
Other examples include;
The dancer and the sports coach: meeting modalities, celebrating movement. Colleagues from Dance Performance and Teaching and staff from the school of Sports and Wellbeing are currently in initial phases of devising a collaborative research project investigating pedagogical approaches in peer to peer exchange; where sports science / sports coaching and somatics meet to further the professional practice and facilitation skills of both learning cohorts.
The somatic teams’ collaboration with the School of Health and Social Care through experiential, sensory, interpersonal work with nurses in training. Exploring questions including; How do I sense my bodily experience? How does being present to bodily experience open perception toward a caring relation with patients’ and understanding presence (Dasein), in the context of the Nursing profession, as the living body in the relational field, being in the world with others.
Supporting the Teacher, The Artist, My Colleague is an ongoing research inquiry across all Dance and Somatics staff, which involves the sharing of skills and resources from embodiment, performance and teaching practices. The work allows for the deepening of skills sets, for engaging in teaching, making work and researching ideas in practical, rejuvenating and care-ful ways.
Engaging Communities – Dance Participation Project
The aim of this research project is to engage Preston communities currently under-represented in dance. The project draws on the experience of community leaders, local agencies and dance practitioners to deliver and reflect upon community based dance projects in neighborhood settings.
The partners brought together for this research project includes various local community groups, Sound Skills, Community Gateway Housing Association, Barnardos, Dance Syndrome, Preston Council, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Preston Domestic Violence, Ludus Dance and the Dance and Somatic Practice Research Group (UCLan). This includes ourselves, community groups, voluntary organisations, public sector, and dance organisations with specialist areas of experience and dissemination.
Reading The World
This is a collaboration with the university’s social work department; a creative writing and performance project working with marginalised communities in and around Preston, specialising in working with adults in recovery and with mental health difficulties. The project aims to find ourselves; find our voice, find our body, find our words. Through writing tasks, movement exploration and performance skills we arrive at a programme of work that represents our strengths and our community.