Communion, Perception and Creative Making in Immersive Place Dance Practice

  • Catherine Anne Washbrooke

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Communion, perception and creative making with places and things comprise the key enquiry of this PhD project, which investigates how dancers can commune with places and things through the body-mind-self of the dancer, the uniqueness of places and the difference of things. It explores an ontology which recognises that Earth, and the places and things of it, are inherently alive, responsive and exist in relation to one another. Underpinned by Tim Ingold’s animic ontology and meshwork theory (2011), the practice research has revealed that places commune reflexively with dancers.

ImP Dance is a framework in which dancers may immerse themselves to relate to places and things in deepening layers and, thus, to co-create with them. The practice research reveals how dancers can achieve communion in making with place. ImP Dance fuses Laban (and contemporary innovations of it) with somatic practices to facilitate a creative enquiry in place dance. The work is UK based and influenced by a range of practices and artists, including the late Suprapto Suryodarmo’s Joged Amerta, Sandra Reeve’s Move into Life, and Rosemary Lee and Simon Whitehead’s choreographic practice. My own training in Laban from a Dance Theatre perspective and in somatic practices underpins the ImP Dance framework.

This practice research enquiry consists of a written thesis and a performance afternoon conducted in May 2021. The research has been developed using dance improvisation as well as literature-based research practices. Qualitative research methods include participant observation and a range of collaborative place investigations at various types of place. Creative research methods include a range of methods generated in this practice research, materials-to-studio and WalkTalk as well as writing, drawing and audio-visual modes. The research was conducted between 2016 and 2021, latterly navigating the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings of the practice research reveal that the phases and layers of the ImP Dance framework can enable collaboration between dancer and place and a communion in different relations. Engaging with place in the ImP Dance framework prompts different perceptions of place. In dwelling creatively and transiently, dancers can deeply inhabit places. In making with places, dancers can weave the flux amidst place in dance improvisation. The practice reveals that dancers can experience embodied-emplacement in relation with place, facilitated by the ImP Dance framework.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorEmma Meehan (Supervisor)


  • Place dance
  • ImP Dance
  • body-mind-self
  • thing
  • animic ontology
  • the meshwork
  • weaving the flux
  • amidst place

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