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Research project by Sasha Roubicek, LCDS

Image: Hugo Glendinning

Research Projects

Research Projects

The Conservatoire supports the development of staff research through the Research Projects Fund, which is overseen by the Research & Ethics Committee.

Below are some examples of recent projects. If you would like to get in touch with one of the researchers, please email our Assistant Registrar Sandra Surblyte who will direct you to the staff contact for research in the relevant school.


Feasibility Study: How can we more effectively enable potential students who are physically disabled to access actor training? - Jenny Stephens and Carol Fairlamb, Bristol Old Vic Theatre SchoolExpand Question

Research Leads: Jenny Stephens, Artistic Director and Carol Fairlamb, Head of Voice, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

The project arose from recognition that the School receives very few applications from students who are physically disabled, and a desire to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students even more effective. The project aims to research methods of both encouraging potential students to apply for acting courses, and in the longer term to adapt the school’s curriculum and teaching practices to serve all students more effectively.

The initial Feasibility Study is designed to a) identify obstacles to potential students applying; b) seek advice on how best to work with disabled students – both within the physical environment of the School and through making adjustments to the curriculum and teaching practices; c) survey other drama schools and their provision for potential and current students who are disabled.

The creative opportunities and challenges of working with actors with physical disabilities - Jenny Stephens and Carol Fairlamb, Bristol Old Vic Theatre SchoolExpand Question

Jamie Beddard and cast in rehearsal for The Elephant Man

Research Leads: Jenny Stephens, Artistic Director and Carol Fairlamb, Head of Voice, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

External partners: Chloe Masterton (BOVTS graduate: MA Drama Directing)

In 2018 Bristol Old Vic Theatre School presented an integrated production in collaboration with Bristol Old Vic and Diverse City. Jamie Beddard, an actor with disabilities, starred in a production of The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance alongside BOVTS actors and technical students in training.

This three way collaboration explored the creative opportunities and challenges of integrated working and how this might cast a light on training students with disabilities. As part of this process, the development, rehearsal and performance process was documented and evaluated including a photographic record and interviews with participants.

Through documentation and evaluation, this research aims to support ‘best practice’ in working in an integrated way with artists with disabilities in a professional setting.

[Image: Jamie Beddard and cast in rehearsal for The Elephant Man, photo by Alistair Campbell]


The effect of a 12 week Interval Training Programme on basic anthropometric measurements on third year pre-professional ballet dancers - Anna Brodrick, Central School of BalletExpand Question

Anna Brodrick, Physiotherapist and Head of Medical Department, Central School of Ballet

External partner: The University of Exeter

Research has clearly shown a correlation between fatigue and the risk of injury (Angioi et al 2009, Luke et al 2001). This project builds upon a previous in-house study with third year dance students, in collaboration with the University of Exeter and carried out at Central School of Ballet. For this second study, the interval training regime – a programme consisting of 12 minutes of interval training twice per week for a 12-week period – was repeated twice throughout the academic year. The study measured parameters including weight, hip:waist ratio, blood pressure, and heel bone density.

The research aims to link with periodisation in dance training for the peaks and troughs that run throughout the year, and to reduce the risk of injury and minimise fatigue levels in pre-professional dancers. This project is intended as a precursor to a more in-depth project correlating with an injury profile, alongside looking with greater depth and sensitivity at bone health using DEXA scanning involving more reliable areas of the body which are particularly relevant to dancers.

The relationship between hip muscle strength and injury in dancers - Grainne Creegan and Anna Brodrick, Central School of BalletExpand Question

Grainne Creegan, Physiotherapist, and Anna Brodrick, Physiotherapist and Head of Medical Department, Central School of Ballet

The purpose of the study is to see if reduced hip strength will predispose a dancer to lower limb injury. There is evidence of a correlation between hip strength and knee pain (Souza and Powers, 2009; Robinson and Nee, 2007). However, it is not known if the reduction in power seen in these studies were the cause of injury.

The study uses a hand held Dynamometre to assess the strength of 4 hip movements. A single leg squat in neutral and in full turn out are used to assess functional weaknesses. Data collection takes place at the start and finish of the academic year, with an injury audit completed over the course of the year.

The study aims to reduce the risk of injury to dancers by recognising areas of weakness that predispose an individual to injury, and using the results to guide injury prevention.

urbanflows (screen experiment:1) - Carolyn Deby, London Contemporary Dance SchoolExpand Question

Carolyn Deby - urban flowsCarolyn Deby, Head of Professional Studies, London Contemporary Dance School

External partners: Jia Yu-Corti (LCDS postgraduate) Daniel Persson (LCDS graduate), Cara Siu (Canadian dance artist)

This practice research explores urban space as a field of converging flows and energies that comprise our lived experience – a field increasingly vibrating between the ‘virtual/screen-based’ and the ‘real’. Using video conferencing to simultaneously link dance artists in three different city sites across the globe, the project experiments with performing a hybrid ‘local’ residing in the virtual screen-space the technology facilitates. Being alive (and the sense of meaning and continuity that derives from having a life) is understood as an on-going act of movement through and as part of multi-layered, rhizomatic, and interconnected system-assemblages in space and time. The city manifests a particularly potent nexus of this situation. Movement implies having a material body but equally implicates the immaterial or virtual self. The virtual/screen-based life is ubiquitous for many urban humans; nevertheless, we have physical bodies – what happens in the phase shifts between the physical and virtual? Where do we actually live?

This project aims to create new knowledge through a practice-research process, employing dance/performance expertise, technology, and a site-specific methodology. urbanflows (screen experiment:1) was presented as a Skype-enabled screen improvisation during PSi#24 Daegu (Performance Studies International Conference) in South Korea, July 2018. The image is a screen still from the project.

Breath Sounds - Rick Nodine, London Contemporary Dance SchoolExpand Question

Breath SoundResearch Lead: Rick Nodine, Lecturer in Choreography and Improvisation, London Contemporary Dance School

Jamie McCarthy, Sound Designer, & Gareth Green, Lighting Designer, LCDS
Manuela Sarcone, Ellen Johanssen, and Jack Sergeson, LCDS Graduates

The project researched the intersection between Nodine’s long-term practice of teaching and making choreography which integrates voice and movement, with a visual arts approach to installation-making. The intention was to expand the audience’s perception of the body of a performer into a visual and aural environment through collaboration with Sound Designer Jamie McCarthy and Lighting Designer Gareth Green. Ultimately, the research investigated ways of stimulating an audience’s awareness of their own body and breath via the performers by means of kinaesthetic empathy.

The project aimed to reverse the current trend in the visual arts of the presence of dance in galleries and museums, instead appropriating the strategies of installation art in order to interrogate the choreographic process.

[Images: Sam Coren]

Skin/Space/Stone - Sasha Roubicek, London Contemporary Dance SchoolExpand Question

Skin Space Stone Skin Space Stone











Sasha Roubicek, Dance Lecturer, London Contemporary Dance School

Renee Stewart, LCDS Graduate

This studio-based practice-as-research project explores the nature of choreographic process and cross-arts source material approaches to performance. The project aims to stimulate consideration and discussion around movement motivation, discovery and making and to raise enquiry and debate around perceptions and attitudes towards performance and the performer.

An initial exploratory project interrogated from a somatic viewpoint the role of the kinaesthetic response to visual art for the purpose of movement-making and choreography. The research investigated four aspects of work by Land Artist, Richard Long:

Texture = Sensation
Space/Scale: Microcosm & Macrocosm
Patterns: Sculptural & Spatial
Activity & Repose

The second phase of the project, Skin/Space/Stone, developed the research into an extended form for presentation at dance institutes, conferences and choreographic festivals. After the initial exploration process, sharings were given at Ideas In Action at London Contemporary Dance School, Movingeast and SDD studios.

Skin/Space/Stone was performed on 4 June 2017 in Hong Kong during the Hong Kong International Choreography Festival (HKICF). The work was also shown as part of the student conference at LCDS on 7 June and at Rambert School on 9 June.

[Images: Hugo Glendinning]

Music – Psychoanalysis – Musicology - Samuel Wilson, London Contemporary Dance SchoolExpand Question

Samuel Wilson, Lecturer in Contextual Studies, London Contemporary Dance School

Samuel Wilson is editor of a collection of essays, Music – Psychoanalysis – Musicology, on the adoption of psychoanalytic theory into methods of understanding music. The music discussed ranges from Franz Schubert to Taylor Swift. It explores music with reference to a rich body of interdisciplinary theory developed across psychoanalysis and the arts. This is the first collection of its kind; previous collections have been written by psychoanalysts with an interest in music but never by music specialists drawing on psychoanalytic theory (previous contributions in this subdiscipline are scattered throughout the literature). The book includes an introduction by Wilson on historical music-psychoanalysis connections and a chapter on the position of “the subject” in psychoanalytic interpretations of artworks and musical works.

The book can be found here.

Chapter listing:

Introduction – Samuel Wilson

Part I: Psychoanalysis, musical analysis, and method 1. Speaking of the voice in psychoanalysis and music – David Bard-Schwarz 2. Parallels between Schoenberg and Freud – Alexander Carpenter 3. The psychodynamics of neo-Riemannian theory – Kenneth M. Smith 4. Schubert, music theory, and Lacanian fantasy – Christopher Tarrant 5. Subjective and objective violence in Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ – Alexi Vellianitis Part II: Situating music and psychoanalysis 6. Does the psychoanalysis of music have a ‘subject’? – Samuel Wilson 7. Jung and the transcendent function in music therapy  – Rachel Darnley-Smith 8. Symbolic listening: the resistance of enjoyment and the enjoyment of resistance – Jun Zubillaga-Pow 9. Masochism and sentimentality: Barthes’s Schumann and Schumann’s Chopin – Stephen Downes

"9 Minutes" - Jeanne Yasko, London Contemporary Dance SchoolExpand Question

Research Lead: Jeanne Yasko, Artistic Director, EDge

9 minutes directed by Jorge Crecis, to be co-created and performed the postgraduate students of LCDS (EDge) and RADA (MA Theatre Lab) as well as the BA3 students at National Centre for Circus Arts at the end of the academic year 2018-19. It will be a multidisciplinary piece that will exhaust the physical, technical and emotive limits of each discipline and unique skill sets of each company.

The initial research & development phase for this creation allows time to explore innovative ways to cross the disciplines of dance, theatre and circus.

New approaches to physicality and expression will emerge by:

  • Generating written scripts whose content and rhythmicality are not only inspired but also specifically written to be performed alongside specific dance vocabularies and/or specific circus skills.
  • Approaching choreography from a circus perspective; stage direction from a choreographic viewpoint; and circus devising by narrative.
Methods of Contact Improvisation meet Cyr Wheel practice - Laura Doehler, National Centre for Circus ArtsExpand Question

Research lead: Laura Doehler, National Centre for Circus Arts

Partners: Amy Welbourn, National Centre for Circus Arts; Rick Nodine, London Contemporary Dance School

In July 2018 Cyr wheel students from National Centre for Circus Arts and students from London Contemporary Dance School had the opportunity to relate their practices and advance in understanding how another technique feeds creative approaches and opens new pathways towards technical integration and skills. This project serves to give Cyr wheel and Contact Improvisation (CI) practice a visibility and access through documentation and publication. It also initiates cross-disciplinary research as a tool to deepen artistic practices.

To find out more about the research, visit the blog Cyr Seeks Contact.

You can also view a short film about the project:

Gender in Contemporary Circus - Martha Harrison, National Centre for Circus ArtsExpand Question

National Centre for Circus Arts by Bertil NilssonResearch Lead: Martha Harrison, HE Year Manager/Aerial and Acrobatics Teacher, National Centre for Circus Arts

This project builds upon anecdotal evidence and conversations regarding the construction of gender in modern circus. It aims to create a greater understanding of gender in circus supported by a critical approach and analysis of the work currently being made within the sector. The work also aims to demonstrate that gendered representation within society has far-reaching effects, including within the modern circus.

There are two elements to the research. The first stage is a gendered analysis of an internal resource, the ‘Artists Company and Development’ newsletter which is produced weekly and received by around 650 individuals, investigating language usage in job offers and the gendered narratives presented in advertised shows.

The second stage, focusing on female jugglers, navigates concepts of essential, cultural and biological difference through a series of interviews. It explores the representation of women in a predominantly male environment, and the boundaries placed around participation.


What happens when the circus is given a voice? What would it say? - Mish Weaver, National Centre for Circus ArtsExpand Question









Research Lead: Mish Weaver, Associate Artist/Tutor, National Centre for Circus Arts

Research Partners: Judith Phillips, Head of Voice, and Melanie Mehta, Voice Teacher, LAMDA

Participants: Matilda Lee-Kronick, Aerialist; Sarah Jeneway, Aerialist; National Centre for Circus Arts students

Voice is underexplored in Circus training and performance, with priority given to the virtuosic body. This focused research agenda questions why this might be and aims to lead Circus Arts towards new insights in voice applied to physical disciplines.

Phase 1 was a diagnostic research pilot over 3 areas; practice, academic and creative. Overarching concerns were:

  • The well-being of physical performers in using their voices
  • Training and directing strategies in drawing out the voice and how this informs pedagogical processes
  • Creatively how to enable the cross art form of voice circus to flourish.

The creative practice as research experimented with voice techniques alongside static trapeze techniques, observing how the voice is affected by the trapeze physicality and how the trapeze skill is affected by the use of the voice. Workshops with National Centre for Circus Arts students looked at the well being of the performer using voice and circus disciplines, techniques for engaging the voice and creative applications with juggling, straps, hula hoop and handstands.

Underpinning the practice was initial historical research which raised many points regarding the speechlessness and otherwise of circus and clowns. There will be an article documenting Phase 1, published soon. Phase 2 of the research will look at contemporary, phenomenological consideration and contextual analysis of The Circus Voice as well as developing studio practice and relating this to pedagogical and directorial methods for working with the voices of circus performers.

Reflecting on Action: Creative approaches to teaching reflective practice - Phaedra Petsilas, Rambert SchoolExpand Question

Reflective practice research at Rambert SchoolReflective practice research at Rambert School










Research Lead: Phaedra Petsilas, Head of Studies, Rambert School

External partners: Jennifer Leigh, Lecturer in HE and Academic Practice, University of Kent; Nicole Brown, Lecturer in Education, UCL

Some experiences are hard to teach, learn, and capture, particularly when individuals are young and inexperienced.  This project involved working with second year students at Rambert School within one specific module – performance and choreography – where 50% of the assessment is for a reflective piece of work. The research aimed to improve the quality of the students’ reflection, and give them tools that will enhance their future work in their final year and in their professional careers.

Students were guided in using modelling, drawing, material objects, and movement, to help them learn how to reflect and express their reflections and choreographic ideas. An introduction to theoretical models of reflection and creative approaches gave the students a vocabulary and allowed them to access and express their emotions and feelings in a way that cannot be gained through words alone.

A filmographer documented the process of the students learning to reflect in this way.


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