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Professor Sarah Whatley - University Alliance. Coventry, England, GB

Professor Sarah Whatley

Professor of Dance and Director of the Centre for Dance Research | Coventry University

Coventry, England, UNITED KINGDOM

She has expertise across a range of contemporary dance theory & practice, such as with artists, dance companies & cultural organisations.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Digital Dance

Performing Arts


Dance and Cultural Heritage

Dance and Disability


Professor Sarah Whatley is Professor of Dance and Director of the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University. She has expertise across a wide range of contemporary dance theory and practice, much of it in partnership with artists, dance companies and cultural organisations. Her research focuses on issues such as how the movement of the body can communicate and transmit emotions and intelligence, as well as understanding dance in different cultures. She is also interested in dance and technology - for example, exploring the connections between dance, disability, prosthetics and 3D design.

Her projects and publications employ a wide range of methodologies, including practice research, and focus on creative reuse of digital cultural content, reimagining dance archives and dance documentation, intangible cultural heritage, somatic dance practice and pedagogy, and inclusive dance practice concerned particularly with disability in performance. She has eight edited books on these themes, is founding Editor of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and sits on the Editorial Boards of several other Journals. She is also an advisor for several groups, including Dance Research, Digital Theatre and Practice Research Advisory Group (PRAG). Sarah’s early career was as a classically-trained dancer, choreographer and, dance teacher.

Media Mentions (2)

Dance pioneer and associate professor at Coventry University becomes a Dame

Coventry Observer  online


Professor Sarah Whatley, director of Coventry’s Centre for Dance Research, said: “We are thrilled that Siobhan has been recognised in this way. We have enjoyed a long relationship with Siobhan, working together on several projects (including creating her digital archive; Siobhan Davies RePlay), and benefiting from her extraordinary vision and deep commitment to ensuring an exciting future for dance and dancers in the UK. Siobhan’s prolific career and contributions make very clear the input that dance makes to world leading research.”

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New diploma for learning disabled actors has the power to change theatre

The Guardian  online


“Theatre needs to stop being so scared. We all need to stop being scared.” Strong words from the highly respected casting director Sarah Hughes talking at a seminar at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on Thursday that highlighted what has been learned from offering a Performance Making Diploma for learning disabled actors at the college.

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Multimedia Appearances






Accomplishments (3)

Dance Research Impact Prize

2018 Nominated and shortlisted in Dance One UK annual awards

Awarded Roll of Honour

2017 International Women’s Day, Coventry University

Research team of the Year

2017 (InVisible Difference) – Coventry University

Education (2)

University of Surrey Roehampton: Ph.D. 2002

Leicester Polytechnic: B.A., Performing Arts (Dance) 1982

Affiliations (5)

  • Advisory Board member for Delia Ferri’s (Maynooth University Department of Law) ERC Consolidator project ‘Dancing’
  • Advisory Board – Digital Theatre
  • Advisory Board member - Dance Research
  • Governor – London Studio Centre
  • External Advisor to the Trinity Laban Course Board for Research Degrees

Event Appearances (5)

Engaging with the Fifties in Europe: Kaleidoscope a Retrospective (2020)

New Strategies for User Engagement and Digitised Photographic Heritage – Fifties in Europe Kaleidoscope  Berlin, Germany

The Clay Connection (2020)

Parallax 14: Craft and Art Symposium  London, England

The Seemingly Impossible Professor status (2019)

Independent Dance  London, England

The First ten years of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices (2019)

BodyIQ Festival  Berlin, Germany

Beyond the Text: Chorus in the Twenty-First Century (2019)

Workshop and public performance  Oxford, England

Articles (5)

Enhancing creativity by training metacognitive skills in mental imagery

Thinking Skills and Creativity

2020 In a longitudinal study, 240 undergraduate dance students were recruited to assess the effectiveness of a series of workshops designed to develop metacognitive skills in use of mental imagery to support choreographic creativity.

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Kaleidoscope: Feedback Collection, Impact and Future Exploitation: EU Project Report


2020 This report reflects on the focus groups, workshops and online survey conducted during the Kaleidoscope project. Furthermore, it analyses the feedback collected on the digital tools and user engagement strategies to present evidence of impact and future exploitation potential.

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Exchanging, Moving, Translating: thoughts on dance and disability

Centre for Dance Research

2019 The e-book is partly funded by the British Council and is a collection of papers by 12 authors, translated into both Portuguese and English.

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A Report on the Screendance Symposium

The International Journal of Screendance

2019 In February of this year, the International Screendance Network hosted a symposium at the University of Brighton, UK to mark the conclusion of a two-year research period. Funded by a Network Grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) the Screendance Network was established in 2009 in order to accelerate the discourse and publication in screendance.

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Virtual Reality and Choreographic Practice: The Potential for New Creative Methods

Body, Space & Technology

2019 Virtual reality (VR) is becoming an increasingly intriguing space for dancers and choreographers. Choreographers may find new possibility emerging in using virtual reality to create movement and the WhoLoDancE: Whole-Body Interaction Learning for Dance Education project is developing tools to assist in this process.

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