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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy


The current research profile and plans of the Dance Unit of Assessment have been strategically supported by the University of Surrey Roehampton (USR), benefitting directly from the increased funding that resulted from our raised rating in the 1996 RAE. The UoA is now building on its international profile, supported by a high proportion of research active staff (93% of staff entered) and its position as a platform for dance scholars and researching artists from all over the world. Signalling a mature research culture and as testimony of the importance of dance research at USR, two key appointments were made. Stephanie Jordan moved from her role as Professor and Head of Department to become Research Professor in Dance in September 2000. At this point, Dr. Andrée Grau moved from a 0.5 to 1.0 post, becoming a Reader and also Dance Subject Leader (within the new School of Arts structure).

The institutional architecture of USR ensures that research activity is both encouraged and monitored, while leaving considerable autonomy to academic units. An economical structure of research committees at university and school levels determines policy and allocations. The Senior Pro-Rector chairs the Research Committee, there is a central Research Office, and the Learning Resources Centre includes dedicated workspace with computers for research students. The university’s Estates Developments Project includes a purpose-built Graduate Centre for completion within the next five years. While 20% of HEFCE research income contributes to the wider research infrastructure and to match funding for small external grants, the remaining 80% is automatically devolved to the Faculties, to be spent where it has been earned against the school and faculty plans for research. Within the Dance UoA, the Centre for Dance Research (CDR), headed by Jordan, has remained the integrating unit for all research activities, projects, conferences, seminars, consultancies, bringing together the work of staff, research students and invited scholars. It is a regular item on the agenda of Dance meetings and offers advice on all kinds of research matters including working processes and applications for both external and internal funding.

Research structures enable staff and research students to work in teams for certain projects, integrating a variety of disciplinary approaches, sharing ideas regularly in seminars, whilst they also operate individually, according to their particular specialisms. This dual approach to structuring matches the organization of the curriculum and the teaching patterns at both undergraduate and Masters level. The culture of collaboration discourages definition of clearly separate 'research groups', except in the case of Dance Movement Therapy; it seemed ‘appropriate’ to list this area of activity as research group B and all else as group A. Research areas remain broadly the same as for the last RAE cycle, 19th and 20th century theatre dance history, analysis and criticism, cultural and anthropological studies (now a considerably expanded field of activity, examining theories of the body and non-western dance cultures), and choreography, areas that interconnect usefully in team projects. Recently, we have recruited research students working in the earlier historical periods of the Renaissance and baroque, attracted to USR because of its expertise across dance, literature and music whilst drawing on the period knowledge of consultants and co-supervisors from outside USR. Both staff and students benefit from the broad interdisciplinary opportunities offered by USR's other provision in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, in terms of other research groups, the co-supervision of students (several across UoAs), training in research methods, research seminars and conferences. Research in Dance Movement Therapy focuses on the researcher as self-reflexive practitioner by deconstructing theory-practice links and implementing innovative uses of clinical supervision. These approaches are supported by the range of expertise in Play, Drama, and Music Therapies at USR.

We welcome our RAE panel's non-hierarchical listing of categories of research output. However, it is CDR policy to encourage researchers towards peer-reviewed outcomes (e.g. for books and journals), where these are appropriate, thereby benefitting from debate with readers and other external advisors. We are also wholly committed to developing a more rigorous and meaningful dialogue between written and practical research, and between the academic community and the dance profession, particularly choreographers, whose work is normally, and effectively, conducted outside academic institutions. Hence, for example, alongside Erica Stanton, a choreographer who is also a member of the teaching staff, our policy has been to engage other choreographers from the profession as Senior Research Fellows, to date Siobhan Davies (1994-97), followed by Ashley Page. However, the recent appointment of a full-time AHRB Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts (Dr. Carol Brown) demonstrates our firm commitment to developing a research presence in practice on a level with the other kinds of activity that we promote. Thus too the CDR has demonstrated that it is alert to the policies and initiatives of outside agencies. We have also responded to the Society for Dance Research (SDR), Arts Council and American Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) in terms of hosting research events and new project schemes. The Dance UoA appreciates the RAE panel’s statement that it ‘is more concerned with outcome than with income’. Although we have expanded our grant profile and working procedures considerably since 1996, we operate with an open policy that, for instance, esteems prestigious individual projects and achievements that may not necessarily attract major research income as highly as larger team projects that, by their very nature, are more likely to do so. Representing the CDR within USR, Jordan continued until autumn 2000 as a member of both the Faculty Research Sub-Committee and University Research Committee (and Research Degrees Committee in 1999). Grau and Jordan are members of the new School of Arts Research Committee.

Achievements: There is an explicit policy on collaboration for staff and research students within and outside the Dance UoA and internationally, with projects of this kind seen as both stimulating opportunities for senior researchers, ways of bringing on newer researchers and occasions for increasing the interdisciplinary dimension of our work. The main collaborative projects and achievements are identified below (see RA6a for details of grants):
1. Grau is the Director of ‘South Asian Dance In Britain: Negotiating Cultural Identity Through Dance (1999-2001)’, a two-year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust and involving a team of three researchers, with Dr. Alessandra Iyer as a principal investigator alongside Grau. A major outcome from the project will be a joint-authored book. Outcomes to date include papers at the 1999 ‘Momentum’ conference at Manchester Metropolitan University and the 2000 Conference on Asian Performing Arts in Leiden, articles in Extradition, and the project team has been invited (and funded) to present a day of events and an exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall in August 2001.
2. Jordan’s research in music and dance has led her to develop a number of networking and group activities in the field. In November 1998, she initiated an international working group for specialists in the area of music and dance, students and established researchers from Denmark, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA, spanning baroque, 19th and 20th century dance. The group, which first met at USR, developed from a panel presentation at the 1996 SDHS conference in Minneapolis. It resulted in another panel of papers focussing on the theme of ‘Dance and Musical Heritage’ at the 2000 ‘Dancing in the Millennium’ conference in Washington. The 2001 working group meeting at USR will focus on the topic of performance musicality.
3. Another major team project is the book Europe Dancing (2000, ed. Grau and Jordan, see RA2) which brought us into collaboration with dance scholars and universities in 9 countries (Dr. Giannandrea Poesio and Bonnie Rowell from the CDR). The book was acclaimed on publication by eminent American and British scholars Susan Foster, Lynn Garafola and Ramsay Burt.
4. We have hosted two international refereed conferences during the current RAE cycle, the 1994 ‘Following Sir Fred's Steps: A Conference Celebrating Ashton's Work’ and the 1997 ‘Preservation Politics’ conference. Both events involved the Royal Ballet and the SDR, were noted in the national press and had proceedings published by Dance Books, London (Following Sir Fred's Steps: Ashton's Legacy, 1996, ed. Grau and Jordan and Preservation Politics, 2000, ed. Jordan). The 1997 conference featured a range of professional practitioners as well as scholars and was also a collaboration with SDHS, the first time that this organisation has formed such a connection with an institution abroad. The conferences and ensuing books of essays included four contributions by USR staff members, two by research students. The first conference introduced new critical perspectives on Ashton; the second opened up heritage debates, stimulated too by experts from the fields of Shakespeare textual studies, opera and theatre.

Major individual achievements include the following sole-authored monographs (see RA2): Jordan’s Moving Music (well reviewed in Dance Now and Dancing Times) and Rowell’s Dance Umbrella (also recommended in Dancing Times). Other monographs have been produced by staff who joined us during the cycle (three by Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest, one by Iyer). The CDR has produced four edited volumes, with a further volume, translations of writings by the Russian choreographer Fedor Lopukhov, currently going through University of Wisconsin Press (ed. Jordan, for the monograph series Studies in Dance History). This represents a considerable advance on outcomes of this nature entered in RAE 1996.

Resources: Funds have been allocated towards specialised computer equipment and research expenses such as materials, travel, and conference attendance. As well as networked PCs for all staff, there is Apple Mac equipment within the CDR for use of the Labanwriter and Lifeforms programmes. The PC Calaban notation programme is also available. In addition to an excellent USR dance library, researchers have access to the numerous library and archive facilities of the London area. Currently, our choreographers can use a fully equipped, professional standard theatre and studio facilities during designated periods of the year. However, practical Dance facilities are soon to be greatly expanded and improved. In 2000, USR was successful in its HEFCE Poor Estates bid for Dance and Physical Education provision (£804,000), and construction of a new building complex, with the equivalent matching internal funding, will start in January 2002.

Research students: In 1993, we took the decision to recruit our first research students. In 1996, we had seven; we now have 13, two of whom have come to us from abroad and four of whom are full- time. Two have been recruited from our own MA in Ballet Studies. The first four students to complete have all graduated at viva, the fourth co-registered and -supervised in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen (she also came to us on full scholarship); two more students are expected to complete in 2001. It is Dance policy to offer two nationally advertised full-time studentships (graduate assistantships) concurrently, including teaching experience. The number of Dance staff supervising research students has also increased markedly. In 1996, there were only three supervisors; now, there are seven (Grau and Jordan acting as Directors of Studies). It is University policy for all students to have at least two supervisors. All supervisors are provided with appropriate staff development before taking on supervisory responsibilities.

The growth in our research student culture prompted a questionnaire in 1998, which determined that over 50% of our students already held appointments in higher education institutions (still the case). Research students are represented at the appropriate Faculty and University Research Committees and at Senate (dance students have acted as representatives on all three committees during the current cycle). They participate in the CDR research methods programme, seminars and conferences, in the broad range of University research seminars and in meetings (both academic and social) of the student-led Graduate Association (GRASS).

Dance Movement Therapy: DMT staff have initiated a research group embracing all the Arts and Play Therapies. A committee was established in 1998 to assess bids for research activities across the Therapies. DMT staff have been supported in conference attendance. Their research profile has been strengthened by the presence of a new research student community (one student in DMT, two in Dramatherapy and one in Play Therapy).


We have seized exciting opportunities to increase the international profile of our researchers and to develop new colleagues within the extremely limited field of dance researchers. Both these criteria have been the driving force behind replacements for Jonathan Thrift (who retired in 2000), Dr. Giannandrea Poesio and Dr. Angela Kane (who took up posts at University of Surrey, Guildford in 2000, becoming head of the MA and Department respectively). With the departure of Poesio and Kane, we lost valuable research expertise in dance history. However, replacement appointments have brought renewed energy to this field (Drs. Larraine Nicholas and Stacey Prickett, covering both American and British dance history); they also invigorate existing profiles of practically-based work (Toby Bennett – increased from 0.5 to 1.0; Natalie Gordon; Brown as an additional appointment) and multi-cultural research (Grau, increased to 1.0, Prickett, and Iyer, increased from 0.2 to 0.6, the latter also specialising in dance and archaeology). A further full-time practitioner researcher will be appointed in 2001.

It was policy to include advanced researchers amongst the new appointments during the cycle. Iyer came to us in 1999 with a considerable publishing record (and particular technological expertise), also recognition with Fellowships awarded (2000) by the University of Oxford and International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, and major research grants from the Wingate and Getty Foundations (1998 and 2000). The CDR now has two Senior Research Fellows who are not academic staff (Hutchinson Guest, the internationally recognised authority on Labanotation, and Page, the Royal Ballet choreographer – see RA6 --category C was checked with the RAE team). It is policy that all our Senior Research Fellows are fully integrated into the CDR, giving and participating in research seminars and conferences, offering advice on research projects undertaken by other dance staff and also teaching students at undergraduate and/or postgraduate levels. Brown has an established record of professional choreography and scholarly writing, experience as Associate Artist, then Choreographer in Residence at The Place Theatre (1997-99); after obtaining two Research and Development Grants from London Arts Board, she was winner of a Jerwood Foundation Award in 2000. Other staff who joined us in September 2000 have taken up their first substantive university appointments: Prickett, who has already published internationally and acted as a reader for Dance Research Journal (her work cited by eminent scholars: Ramsay Burt in Alien Bodies, Ellen Graff in Stepping Left and Helen Thomas in Dance, Modernity and Culture); Nicholas, a graduate assistant who completed her PhD with us in 1999; Gordon, who is expected to enter the next RAE (see RA 6).

Our staffing strategy involves supporting doctoral research (Rowell and Kane, who gained her PhD in autumn, 2000); bringing on and mentoring existing staff who are new to publishing (e.g. Rowell, mentored formally by Jordan for two of her publications) and new staff with good profile and promise (e.g. Bennett, one of whose submitted items is co-authored with Poesio). All recently-appointed staff are research-active. There has been careful monitoring of teaching loads and administration to support members of staff who are most energetic in research, and advice and help with publication outlets from experienced staff. Appraisal and promotion procedures take full account of research contribution. Research time is a planned part of all staff members' work schedules. Timetables are consolidated to allow at least one weekly research day (pro-rata for part-time staff) as well as longer blocks of time to enable a research visit, practical project or writing-up period. External research grants allow staff longer periods of research leave, especially as they have been regularly enhanced by some degree of USR funding.


The balance between different modes of research and types of output within the submission demonstrates a weighting towards written outcomes. This is partly an indication of the nature of our current practical facilities, partly the profile of researchers, although the latter has shifted as a result of recent staff changes. Yet a number of our projects with written outcomes have incorporated practical work as part of process: for instance, the exploration of dance and mime technique by Bennett and Poesio, participant observation of South Asian dance work by Grau and her colleague researchers, and Jordan's working through movement phrases (sometimes with notators) as exemplars of approaches to musicality. Bennett’s choreographic experiments with the Ballet de l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie in 1993 and 1994 have directly informed his current movement style research. Many of our research students incorporate a substantial practical component within their projects.


The research profile of the CDR has indicated a steady upward trajectory for most of the cycle and an expansion of our activities. There was a difficult period with regard to staffing in a small Dance unit during 1999-2000: the resignation of three full-time members of staff, Kane, Poesio and Thrift (see RA6b). It has not been possible to host major research events or to move plans forward as rapidly as we intended during this period. However, with the boost of new blood staff, there is evidence that we have been able to perform with renewed vigour since autumn 2000. The following points refer to plans indicated in the 1996 submission that are not covered elsewhere in RA5 and 6.
1. We have hosted two major conferences, in 1994 and 1997. However, as a mature research culture, we consider that it would be more profitable in research terms to hold major 2/3 day conferences rather less frequently in future and to diversify according to a pattern already initiated by the CDR and much welcomed by dance scholars: to include a) one-day research conferences/seminars on tightly focused topics (with published papers as part of a USR series) and b) more informal discussion-based meetings of researchers working in a common field. Our first day conference was held in late 1995, entitled ‘Dance Analysis: Movement Perspectives’, and it interrogated the surprisingly neglected topic of movement analysis as part of dance analysis. Most recently, ‘Structures and Metaphors in Baroque Dance’ was planned for March 2001, in a series of related events hosted alongside the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society and New College, Oxford. It involves papers (to be published in proceedings) and practical demonstrations by leading UK and American scholars, including Linda Tomko (current President of SDHS) and our research student Kimiko Okamoto. We plan to continue collaboration with the SDR in the organisation of our conference/seminar series. As for discussion-based meetings, there is already evidence from those of the music-dance working group and of the university-wide Cultural Studies research ‘cluster’ that such informal gatherings take debate to greater depth than tends to happen in the larger, more formal conference arena.

2. The 1997 conference 'Preservation Politics' took the theme of dance reconstruction. A number of areas of interest identified in 1996 and concerned with reconstruction were modified and absorbed under the umbrella of this conference.
3. We have advertised and broadened our research seminar series, which has resulted in greater participation of outside scholars and research students. A wider range of speakers has also encouraged this, including, for instance, Gerhard Kubik, (from Austria), Beth Genné, Lynn Garafola and Susan Manning (all from the USA), Rosemary Brandt, Ramsay Burt, Alexandra Carter and Valerie Briginshaw (from the UK), also recently graduated doctoral students, for instance, Ann Décoret (from France) and our own Geraldine Morris and Larraine Nicholas.
4. The University's Carnival Studies Centre was not established after the departure of a key member of staff specialising in this field.

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Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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