Sarah Whatley

Professor, Director, Centre for Dance Research

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Dance analysis; Dance and disability; Dance and digital technologies, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Dance and somatic practices



Sarah Whatley is Director, Centre for Dance Research. Her research focuses on the interface between dance and new technologies, dance analysis, somatic dance practice and pedagogy, and inclusive dance. The AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome Trust and the European Union fund her current research, which is broadly focused on the impact of digital technologies on tangible and intangible cultural heritage. She led the AHRC-funded Siobhan Davies digital archive project, RePlay, and has worked with Davies on other artist-led research projects. She is founding Editor of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and sits on the Editorial Boards of several other Journals.

Sarah supported the development of the Routledge Performance Archive in her role as Academic Consultant: Digital Environment. She was an assessor for the 2014 REF exercise (Panel D35) and is a Strategic Reviewer and member of the AHRC Peer Review College. She is also an Evaluator for the European Commission.


Vision Statement

My research is inspired by my deep interest in how dance artists document and publish their choreographic thinking in different modes, and how audiences become co-creators in art making practices. The collaborations that I have with researchers and artists, arts companies and organisations, both in the UK and overseas, are very important to me because it stimulates productive dialogues and leads to new insights about dance as a creative cultural practice.

Research Interests

Research Projects and Grants awarded

2017     Social Choreography – AHRC Network project (Co-I)

2016     Resilience and Inclusion: Dancers as Agents of Change- AHRC (PI)

2016     Identity and Governance of Bodily Extensions: The Case of Prosthetics and Avatars – Wellcome Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science (partner)

2016     People Dancing: changing perceptions through inclusion and interventions – AHRC CDA (PI)

2015     Error Network: AHRC (Co-I)

2015     Whole-Body Interaction Learning for Dance Education (WhoLoDance); EU (partner)

2014     In the Dancer’s Mind; Creativity, Novelty and the Imagination; Leverhulme  (Co-I)

2014     Civic EpistemologiesDevelopment of a Roadmap for Citizen Researchers in the age of Digital Culture; FP7 Capacities Programme (partner)

2013     EuropeanaSpace; FP7   CIP-ICT-PSP-2013-7 (project lead)

2013     Renewal, Innovation and Change: Heritage and European Society (RICHES) FP7 Cooperation Theme 8 Socio-Economic Sciences & Humanities  SSH.2013.5.2-2 Transmitting and benefiting from cultural heritage in Europe (STREP) – (Researcher – Coventry leading).

2012     Enhancing Choreographic Objects (EChO); AHRC (Researcher)

2012     Labo21; European Commission – Culture Europe (partner)

2012     In-visible Difference: Dance, disability and law, AHRC (PI)

2011     The Library of Processes; Collaborative doctoral award, AHRC

2010     D-TRACES (Dance Teaching Resources and Collaborative Engagement Spaces):  JISC (PI) 

2010     Capturing Stillness; visualization techniques and motion capture:  AHRC Creative Fellowship – Ruth Gibson

2010     Digital Dance Archives: AHRC DEDEFI scheme  (Co-I)

2009     Screen Dance Network; AHRC (Co-I)

2009     Transformations; Cultural Olympiad; People Dancing (lead researcher)

2008     Choreographic Objects; traces and artefacts of physical intelligence; AHRC – Beyond Text (Co-I)

2007      Moving Matters; HEA PALATINE Development Award 

2007     Establishing movement standards and injury reduction for dancers; Leverhulme (Co-I) 

2006     CURVE- learning objects for dance; JISC (Work Package leader)

2006     Siobhan Davies Dance Online; AHRC (PI)

2005     Fracture; Dance and the Moving Image; Arts Council England (project lead)

2004     Body Realities: strategies for inclusion in dance in HE; Coventry University research fund (PI) 

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Research Output 2005 2019

11 Million Reasons: Transmitting Inclusion in Dance

Whatley, S. 1 Jun 2018 A World of Muscle, Bone & Organs: Research and Scholarship in Dance. Coventry: Centre for Dance Research, p. 163-184 19 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access

Accidental Archives of Performance Making

Whatley, S. 2018 Proceedings from the Document Academy, 5, 1 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Open Access

A Conceptual Framework for Creating and Analyzing Dance Learning Digital Content

El Raheb, K., Whatley, S. & Camurri, A. 28 Jun 2018 Moco. ACM, 8 p. (MOCO Movement and Computing)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding

computer science

A new foundation: physical integrity, disabled dance and cultural heritage

Brown, A., Harmon, S., Marsh, K., Pavis, M., Waelde, C., Whatley, S. & Wood, K. 29 May 2018 Disability Dance and Law. Whatley, S., Waelde, C., Harmon, S., Brown, A., Wood, K. & Blades, H. (eds.). UK and USA: Intellect

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Body extension and the law: medical devices, intellectual property, prosthetics and marginalisation (again)

Brown, A., Harmon, S., O’Connor, R., Popat, S. & Whatley, S. 2018 Law, Innovation and Technology, 10, 2, p. (In-Press)

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

intellectual property
human being

Activities 1992 2018

  • 68 Participation in conference
  • 14 Editorial activity
  • 4 Invited talk
  • 3 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

5th International Conference on Movement and Computing

Cisneros, R. E. K. (Organising Committee), Whatley, S. (Organising Committee), Delahunta, S. (Organising Committee)
28 Jun 2018

Activity: Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Dance Fields

Whatley, S. (Organiser), Michael Huxley (Organiser), Ann David (Organiser)
19 Apr 201722 Apr 2017

Activity: Participation in conference

The unruly nature of practice-as-research

Whatley, S. (Keynote Speaker)
14 Jul 2017

Activity: Participation in conference


Whatley, S. (Speaker)
6 Nov 20177 Nov 2017

Activity: Participation in conference


Body Realities: strategies for inclusion in dance in HE

Sarah Whatley (Recipient), 2004

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

university research

Capturing stillness: visualisations of dance through motion capture technologies

Ruth Gibson (Recipient) & Sarah Whatley (Recipient), 18 May 2010

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Virtual reality
Computer games
Augmented reality
Mobile devices

Choreographic Objects; traces and artefacts of physical intelligence

Sarah Whatley (Recipient), James Leach (Recipient) & Scott Delahunta (Recipient), 2008

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Civic Epistemologies – Development of a Roadmap for Citizen Researchers in the age of Digital Culture

Sarah Whatley (Recipient), Neil Forbes (Recipient) & Rosemary E. Kostic Cisneros (Recipient), 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)



Sarah Whatley (Recipient), 2006

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)