Dance Research Group

Creating and sustaining a vibrant community for dance research

We are performers, choreographers and teachers at the forefront of the latest innovations in dance education.

A number of research projects have been embedded into the curriculum so that as part of their formal studies, students are involved in practice-based performative research. Staff work with students in an active partnership where practice-based research informs the teaching, and staff are able to further enrich students’ learning both within and beyond the curriculum. We disseminate our research at local, regional and international performances, conferences and through the published domain.

Our expertise

  • Performance and professional studies/practice
  • Performance and technology
  • Dance and disability
  • Performance and dance pedagogy
  • Creative practice and emerging forms

Projects and collaborations

Performance and professional studies/practice

Professional studies

The dance team are all performers, choreographers and teachers with national and international experience, who are at the forefront of the latest innovations in dance education. They lead six research projects involving students: JMUPstart, JMUp IN(tegrated), Making Connections, INTERFACE, PATCH and CONTACT. Directed by Angie Walton, to date there have been five PATCH community dance research and professional practice projects funded by the Comino Foundation. The projects have investigated how to widen the provision of inclusive, engaging artistic activities for young people at risk of exclusion through collaborative performance projects that have involved dance, photography and filmmaking. JMUPstart Dance Company, directed by Bernard Pierre-Louis, builds repertoire that emerges from independent artists and members within the company. Material consists of a variety of works that challenge the performers’ versatility and adaptability while exploring diverse approaches to creativity and dance. The company has performed in the LEAP and Tilt Festivals Liverpool, Pyramid Theatre Warrington, Bath Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Cloud, London.

Performance and technology


International collaboration with choreographers and composers in the USA and Scotland have informed artistic research in the areas of telematic performance. Telematic performance uses video conferencing software and the internet to link performers between different locations in order to create original works. Funding by JANET, an organisation which provides computer network services to research and education, has enabled the development of the research and connection with artists and researchers across Europe.

Dance and disability

Disability dance

Directed by LJMU researcher Darren Carr, JMUp IN(tegrated) Dance Company is a project-based learning community of practice which was started in 2007 with CETL (Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) funded support. The project is a staff and student collaborative research project, an innovative curriculum development model and a community outreach project, reflecting the University’s strategy for civic engagement. The project works in close partnership with dance agencies, education providers, day care centres and the local authority. Students and client groups are drawn from cross-year groups of the undergraduate degree and disabled service providers/users from North West communities. The project is developing its practice further with other partnership organisations such as DaDAFest (one of LJMU's corporate charities) and Claremont Specialist Sports College. The project is part of the research for the European Commission of Human Rights to respond to recent legislation with regard to making reasonable adjustments for participants with disabilities.

Performance and dance pedagogy


Our programme team was awarded the LJMU Team Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in 2013, and between us, we hold some 15 awards for excellence and innovation in curriculum design, and learning and teaching – including one member receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Award and Medal for Excellence (2014). Focusing on the area of dance science, Fran Leaver’s research and publications are in the area of how to develop a multidisciplinary approach to the dance student, one that combines a holistic approach to teaching dance as an art form and as a science. Darren Carr, is developing his model of practice known as an 'in-reaching' community and higher education practice with the company JMUp IN(tegrated). Telematic performance research by Dr Brooks is advancing new pedagogical practices for the teaching of telematic performance and choreography. World-class innovative research by the dance department in collaboration with computer scientists at LJMU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ensemble Technology Enhanced Learning project, with digital technology has enabled the creation of a prototype tool to support reflective learning and teaching.

Creative practice and emerging forms

Creative practice

Dr Lisa Parsons and Angie Walton are leading artistic research involving improvisation and somatic approaches to creating work through practice as research-based enquiry. The work is collaborative, and at times in conjunction with music artist-researchers at the University of Central Lancashire. Improvisation and authentic moving are both becoming increasingly visible practices through development of new performative openings. The project-based research at times integrates graduate and undergraduate dance students. Together they explore practice-based research enquiry through workshops, discussion, reflection and performance. The projects combine research with practical, artistic and more performance-based enquiry. Through the exchange of ideas and the discussion of findings the research leads to the creation of original performance work that explores creative practice and emerging forms.


Meet the people working within this research group.

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Contact us

If you are interested in working with us on a collaborative project, get in touch with Dr Pauline Brooks.