Erica Charalambous

MA (Master of Arts - Contemporary Dance Education), University of Music and Performing Arts, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. , PhD Doctorate Student, Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University, UK, PhD Cotutelle Research Student, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

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PhD Project

Title: 'Virtual Dust on the Digital Landscape of Dance Archives'

In my PhD research, I am investigating what types of dance archives exist, how they are organised and what the transformation of archival data reveals about archiving dance and dance transmission.  In order to respond to my research question, I investigate how preservation and circulation of data and media transform the archive and dance content, and I selected three very different archives of dance, as case studies to examine physical and non-physical archives and archival collections of dance: 1) the Lucy Guerin Inc (LGI) private dance archive collection of an Australian contemporary dance company based in Melbourne, Australia; 2) The TanzArchiv Leipzig (TAL), a traditional archive of dance that blossomed in dubious political times in East Germany, during the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (1949-1990), in which art and culture were valued as national currency and 3) the “born digital” online archive RePlay of British contemporary choreographer Siobhan Davies.

As someone who comes from a dance practice background and finds herself as an emerging researcher investigating dance archives along her PhD journey I have come across many interesting tensions between dance, the archive and the materiality of content. An archive consists of an organisational system; a taxonomy and categorisation which is orchestrated to position and sustain items (such as records), relate them to one another and make them findable (discoverable for further use). These records contain information of historical significance and upon discovery and analysis often portray the historicity of a place, era, event or subject. There seems to be an interesting tension in archives of dance between the record keeping system (the systematic and systemic), the content (ephemeral matters and uncategorizable items) and the generation of hybrid strategies according to location, cultural memory and the people invested in these collections. What does the journey of a single item; a performance remain; a dancing trace; through these archival digital and non-digital topographies reveal about choreographic practices and the archive? 

Additionally, whilst my study is located primarily in the field of dance studies, an attempt to evaluate the current state of dance digitisation in the early 21st Century presents an estimation of the future trajectory of digital archives of dance and their position in interdisciplinary research. An archive of dance is a lot more than a collection of historical records endemically arranged to be stored and saved for the unknown researcher. The digital environment generates new ways of thinking and in that way, I aim to examine a selection of digital dance archives and propose redefining what an ‘archive’ means in dance. There are relatively few dance archives and even fewer digital dance archives. This study will examine why this is and by focusing on a series of case studies I aim to: 1) understand what the core properties are of ‘dance archives’, 2) examine how the digital environment transforms the archive and how or whether this changes the fundamental properties of the ‘archive’ and 3) whether a study on digital dance archives brings other disciplines into the field of dance and if digitisation offers access to dance knowledge for researchers and scholars from allied fields of study. The performativity of dance from the archive’s perspective and the liveness of dance creates another relationship of critical analysis between the epistemological processes and ontological results.

Research Interests

Erica Charalambous is a dancer, choreographer and a PhD Candidate in a cotutelle research programme in Dance Digitisation at the Centre for Dance Research in Coventry University, UK and Deakin University Melbourne, Australia. Erica’s research focus is on the ‘moments’ of transference of dance into data within the organization, function and digital curation of dance archives in Germany, UK and Australia. Her research interests span from choreographic practices, somatic practices, dance documentation, dance archiving, documenting practice, documenting intangible cultural heritage, cultural intersectionalism and curation of multimodal contemporary art practices with a focus on dance. Alongside her research Erica challenges the boundaries of her artistic practice through an un-published journal I am an Archive (ongoing project) funded by Hosking Houses Trust and Coventry University fund for a Writer’s Residency for Women Writers (2018); an experimental installation Dance Data Distillery (2018) at Digital Echoes 2018 at C_DaRE, and a video art digital performance installation Room under my skin (May- November 2018) at the Venice Biennale 2018. 


Erica Charalambous is a dance practitioner interested in communicating choreography, embodied practices and documenting artistic process. Erica is a cotutelle PhD Candidate at the Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University Melbourne (Australia). Her research investigates the organization and digital curation of dance archives in Germany, UK and Australia.

After my studies in Dance Education (Ballet and Modern Dance, Rallou Manou, Athens Greece, 2001) I danced in various companies in Cyprus (Ballet Cyprus and independent contemporary dance companies) and worked as a movement advisor for Greek drama/tragedy in public schools. I relocated to Germany in 2003 and worked as a ballet teacher and independent dancer and choreographer in various places and institutions. I moved to Frankfurt to study Dance, Pedagogy and Arts Management Degree (MA CoDE, University of Music and Performing Arts, Frankfurt, Germany, 2011) with a scholarship and expanded my practice into dance, somatic practices and artistic research projects, as well as art management and exploring comparative methodologies in my work.

During and after graduating I worked as an independent performer, choreographer, educator and dance practitioner and I received, participated and won various grants and fellowships in art institutions, residency programmes and cultural organizations such as Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts, CND-Paris, BIDE-Barcelona, BOOM Festival- Portugal, Luxembourg ECoC- Luxembourg 2007, Frankfurt Lab, PACT Zollverein Essen – Explorationen 07, Ruhr 2010 ECoC for Developing Artists programmes, Tanzplan Deutschland, Motion Bank-Forsythe company, Mousonturm Frankfurt, IDFrankfurt , E-Motional Bodies & Cities Bucharest-Romania, Dance House Lemessos-Cyprus, ECoC Pafos2017, Bank of Cyprus Cultural foundation and guest-artist, lecturer at Neapolis University Architecture Department, Paphos, Cyprus amongst others. I currently live between the UK and Australia, and I am a PhD Candidate in a cotutelle research programme in Dance Digitisation at Coventry University, UK and Deakin University Melbourne, Australia.

My research focus is on the organization, function and digital curation of dance archives in Europe, UK and Australia. My most recent artistic practice stretches from design and choreography: Spatial Counterpoint (2017), artist research project and promenade performance  in collaboration with MA CoDE and Neapolis University and Out of the Skin (2017) educational performing arts youth academy as official productions of the Pafos 2017 EU Capital of Culture programme, and documenting cross-disciplinary artistic exchanges with a production of a short film documentary Spatial Counterpoint(s) (2017) nominated for short film in the FROSTBITE International Festival Canada (2017). Additionally, through my artistic practice I enjoy exploring various methods of writing and undoing content such as an un-published journal I am an Archive (ongoing project) funded by Hosking Houses Trust and Coventry University fund - Writer’s Residency for Women Writers (2018), an experimental installation Dance Data Distillery (2018) presented at Digital Echoes 2018 at the Centre for Dance Research Coventry University and a video art digital performance Room under my skin (May- November 2018) presented recently at the Venice Biennale 2018.

Master's Project

Title: “Communicating Choreography – Managing and Fine-tuning creative process” 


Dance study programmes and artistic research projects created as descendants of Tanzplan Deutschland *, seem to be excelling in providing knowledge, both theoretical and practical in interdisciplinary fields, which are valuable and useful in the fast-paced ever-changing world of contemporary dance artistry, technique and teaching. This is of value to students, graduates and the networks created for flexible creative industries, and several dance community initiatives, so as to remain up to date with the world of contemporary dance in regards to Performing arts and their interdisciplinary relation to various other fields of art commerce. Providing a correlated platform for education, professional artistic production and dissemination, facilitating the exchange between artists, students, the public, at one (or many) locations.

Although dance is a strong non-verbal medium and it has immense communicative properties, I felt that the dance professionals who compile this art field suffer from a bizarre obstruction when it comes to human interaction and social skills. I was just intrigued by those strange moments where non-verbal communication speaks so loudly you can feel the room shift. We may lack the verbal finesse and literary competence but we are the masters of non-verbal communication. 

Apart from the fundamental corporeal knowledge they share, the communication and relationship between the choreographer and the dancer is not so different to other employer and employee relationships. My decision to interview professionals in the field, who are active today, came from a very personal need to tackle the topic of communication and approaching understanding on a one-on-one basis. 

Going forth from the premise that we can eventually improve our possibilities of approaching understanding in the dance field, the interviews I took are a central point in my thesis. Through a hermeneutic approach and via discourse, whether from literature or discussion or practice, the information I collected was vital to the development of this work.  People’s real-time communication, whether through Skype or during a coffee or in rehearsal, gave me so many different perspectives on the topic I had chosen. I also took it upon myself to draw small sketches so as to communicate certain ideas more effectively.  

As mentioned above the difficulty of being active in the field of dance remains a challenge. I see the importance of introducing moderation into artistic processes to bring more creative flow and efficient communication. And yes offering some creative choreographic strategies into the business world may be a new way for interactive communication and personal performance to flourish.As a choreographer I find it essential to invite methods such as: moderator tools, group process evaluation methods, feed-backing sessions and games. A list of methods and exercises can be found in the last chapter of the Thesis, these have been carefully selected from workshops and research projects with Dance professionals / professors and choreographers such as: Lance Gries, Gabrielle Steiger, Krystal Pyte, and Yuval Pick, as well as, moderator, mediator and corporate communications consultant Kirsten Bruhl. These tools and methods, which I have continued to collect and develop, from various inter-related fields, can contribute to further develop individual and group artistic process and can assist the maintenance and sustainability of the creative process.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


  • NX Arts in general
  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • LB2300 Higher Education


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