Dancing with pain: agency through pain worlds

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This article examines a series of qualitative interviews with seven dance artists in the UK who make dance works with and about their own chronic pain. It integrates research from dance studies (on dance and agency) and health-based chronic pain research (on agency with pain) to focus on individual, interpersonal, and environmental dimensions of agency with chronic pain. The research addresses therefore how the dance artists have individually acted as agents by making change in their own self-identities and working lives. Further, it highlights the importance of peers and audiences alongside the environments of performance which enable agency for the artists. Finally, the article proposes that agency is created in performance through the ‘pain worlds’ shared by the dance artists, that give felt and sensorial pathways to understanding aspects of living with pain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Dance Education
Early online date18 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


This research has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Networking Award, United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI), grant reference number AH/S003495/1.


  • Dance
  • chronic pain
  • agency
  • individual
  • interpersonal
  • environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Health Professions(all)


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