Photo of Ann R. David

Ann R. David

Professor, Professor of Dance and Cultural Engagement

  • 009 Lawrence, Froebel


Research output per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


I am Professor of Dance and Cultural Engagement at the University of Roehampton, London. My research work focuses on dance anthropology and South Asian classical and popular dance, in which areas I have looked closely at the dance and ritual practices in UK Indian communities. This research includes issues of migration, identity and embodiment, and the gestural, narrative and ritual practices of bharatanatyam. I have published widely in this area, as well as on dance in Bollywood, and on the ritual dances of Tibetan Buddhist practice in Bhutan. My current work is a monograph of Indian dancer Ram Gopal to be publsihed by Bloomsbury. I am passionate about the need for the arts in education and dance’s unique role in matters of communication, working closely with policy makers in the arts and on the Board of several arts organisations. At Roehampton, I also sit on the University Council.

In my research work on dance, movement and ritual using an ethnographic methodology, I have been a Research Fellow on a major international project funded by the Ford Foundation, USA and held a Research Fellowship at SOAS, London. Recent publications include co-editing Dance Fields. Staking a Claim for Dance Studies in the Twenty-First Century (Dance Books, 2020); co-editing, and a chapter in Dance Ethnography and Global Perspectives: Identity, Embodiment, and Culture (Palgrave, 2013), as well as chapter contributions to books on embodied ethnography, Performance and Ethnography: Dance, Drama, Music (Cambridge Scholars, 2013); ritual, Summoning the Spirits: Possession and Invocation in Contemporary Religion (I. B. Tauris, 2010); and dance, Dance Matters: Performing India (Routledge, 2010). I regularly give academic papers on dance, ritual, migration and the performance of identity at international conferences and have published widely in dance and other interdisciplinary journals.

The eclectic nature of my dance background - ballet, contemporary, folk dance, and the Indian classical styles of bharatanatyam and kathak - enables me to offer consultancy experience for discussion groups, post-show Q&As, mentoring of dancers, report writing and board representation (see below for work with Sadler's Wells, Akademi, Dance UK, Youth Dance England, and Kingston Arts).


PhD, MA (Dist), BA (Hons), FHEA, FHSA

Research interests

Dance and popular culture; South Asian dance (including classical, folk and Bollywood); dance, culture and identity; dance and religion, dance and embodied ritual and dance ethnography and anthropology.

Research projects

  • Entered in 2008 RAE and 2013 REF. Publications classified as 4* and 3*; 4* and 3* awarded for potential publications for REF 2021.
  • Research Fellow on a major international anthropological project examining the religious lives of immigrant groups in London, funded by the Ford Foundation, USA.
  • Co-investigator on an AHRC-funded project titled, 'The Southall Story', which looks at the cultural life and history of the Southall area of west London. See
  • Working on monograph of Indian dancer Ram Gopal
  • Research Mentor for department staff
  • Published work viewed on over 13,000 times worldwide; over 1,000 downloads of my published papers and over 400 citations of my work
  • Evidence of published work used in university courses worldwide (Austria, Canada, India, Malaysia, Norway, USA).
  • Member of Centre for Dance Research, Roehampton
  • Member of South Asian Diaspora International Researchers’ Network
  • Member of Tamils in Europe Research Network
  • Founder Committee member, PoP (Performances of Popular) Research Group

Professional affiliations

Professional affiliations include membership of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), the Dance Studies Association (DSA), the Society for Dance Research (SDR), The Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), and the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Consultancy work


  • Member of RAI (Royal Anthropological Institute) Ethnomusicology committee
  • Chair of Board of Pagrav Dance Company
  • Trustee of Board of Akademi
  • Steering Committee of MA Choreomundus Programme (2013-current)
  • Honorary Board Member of Choreomundus Alumni Association (2018-current)
  • Role model, Aurora women’s leadership programme, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education
  • Ambassador for Dynamic Eclipse Arts dance company      
  • Advisor on Dance UK Programme Board: Children and Young People's Dance (2015)
  • Advisory panel for Altered Skin, dance/performance company (2014)
  • Interviewer and on short-listing panel for new Akademi choreographic competition (2014)
  • Consultant and on selection panel for Kingston Arts' Ignition choreographic festival (2014)
  • Arts Council Mentor for Kathak dancer Urja Thakore for her Arts Council-funded project, Baharan-Spring (2007/08)
  • Online article and consultant on Indian dancer Ram Gopal for SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive) (now SADAA - South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive) (2004)
  • External Examiner for BA Dance Programme at Lincoln University


  • Assessor for ESF post-doctoral applications, Research Foundation Flanders (2019-2020)
  • Editorial Board, South Asian Popular Culture journal (2017-current)
  • Editorial Board, South Asia Research journal (2014-18)
  • Editorial Board, Eurasian Journal of Music and Dance (2018-current)
  • Peer reviewer for journals including Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social and Cultural Geography, Religion and Wesleyan University Press (2008-present)
  • Peer reviewer for pre-publication book reports for various book publishers
  • Assessor for tenure & promotion, Wesleyan University, USA (2014)
  • Assessor for tenure & promotion, York University, Toronto, Canada (2012)
  • Nominated assessor for two large AHRC grants (2010/11)

Musuems, galleries and public talks

  • On stage conversation with dancer Tara Rajkumar, Bhavan Centre, London (2019)
  • Odissi Lottery Heritage project, invited speaker, Bhavan Centre, London (2019)
  • Post-show discussion with dancer Vena Ramphal, Tara Arts theatre, London (2019)
  • Public talk on dancer Ram Gopal, British Library, London (2018)
  • Leader of Dance Story Workshop, National Theatre (2018)
  • Public talk for Krishna, the Mythological Hero. Lottery Heritage Project, Reading University (2017)
  • Chair of post-performance discussion, Akademi, Southbank (2017)
  • Public talks on Ram Gopal, V&A Museum, & Reading Library (2016)
  • Chair of post-performance discussion at British Museum (2016)
  • Invited chair and panellist, Navadisha conference, Birmingham (2016)
  • Pre-performance talk, & Q&A at Bhavan for Unarvu performance (2016)
  • Advisor & discussant for GFEST London [LGBTQI arts festival] (2014 & 2016)
  • Invited panellist at Dance UK conference, London (2015)
  • Invited speaker at What Next? Wandsworth (2015)
  • Chair of post-show Q & A at Sadler’s Wells Wild Card evening (2014)
  • Invited panellist, ‘British South Asian Theatre Memories’, SOAS, London (2014) 
  • Panelist in discussion of film on dancer Alarmel Valli at Nehru Centre, London (2013)
  • Discussant on film on dancer Mavin Khoo at Asia House, London (2010)
  • Public lecture. “Ram Gopal’s Legacy of Indian Dance in the UK”. National Portrait Gallery, London (2003)


  • Interviewee (live), BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour on Dance, Romance & Ritual (2019)
  • Interview, The Hindu national newspaper, Kerala, India on my forthcoming book on Indian dancer Ram Gopal (2017)
  • Consultant & interviewee, BBC 1 documentary on British Hinduism. [1 million viewers] (2016)
  • Voice-over for BBC News website audio slideshow on Tamil Dance in the UK (2008), available at
  • Interviewee (live) for BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour on Bollywood dance (2009)
  • Interviewee (recorded) on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme on South Asian dance (2006)
  • Public lecture, 'Triumphs and Achievements: Ram Gopal's Legacy of Indian Dance in the UK', National Portrait Gallery, London (2003)

Commissioned Reports

  • Expert Witness report for Metropolitan Police and London Borough of Newham (2020)
  • Report on Frame by Frame, Akademi's Bollywood Dance Symposium at the Royal Opera House, London (2009) (download at
  • Commissioned by Akademi to write Arts Council report on their 2007 Bharatanatyam Conference, Negotiating Natyam


  • Ethnographic fieldwork
  • Dance Anthropology
  • Dance and ritual
  • Popular and urban dance
  • Dance in cultures
  • South Asian dance; classical, bollywood, folk
  • Conceptualisations of the body
  • Embodied ethnographic practice

PhD Examining:

  • University of London, King's College, (2020); University of London, King's College, (2019); University of Sydney (2018); Warwick University (2017); Macquarie University, Australia (2015); Durham University (2014); Exeter University (2013); Bharathidasan University, India (2008).  


Twitter: @AnnRDavid

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output

Dance Fields: Staking a Claim for Dance Studies in the Twenty-First Century

David, A. R. (ed.), Huxley, M. (ed.) & Whatley, S. (ed.), 15 May 2020, Hampshire, UK: Dance Books. 280 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Gopal, Ram

David, A. R., 2020, (Submitted) Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernist Dance. Routldege

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

The “voice of the body”: revisiting the concept of embodied ethnography in the anthropology of dance’

David, A. R., 2020, (Accepted/In press) Music, Dance, Anthropology. Cottrell, S. (ed.). Royal Anthropological Institute at Sean Kingston Publishing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Embodied cultural memories of the Punjab: Giddha dance and song in migrant London spaces.

David, A. R., 2015, In : Traditiones. 44, 2, p. 149-171

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access


AHRC grant research

David, Ann R. (Recipient), 2011

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


David, Ann R. (Recipient), 2010

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively


David, Ann R. (Recipient), 2017

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

Roehampton Teaching Award

David, Ann R. (Recipient), 2010

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Santander Travel Grant

David, Ann R. (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


  • 12 Publication peer-review
  • 12 Media article or participation
  • 8 Invited talk
  • 5 Participation in conference

Gesture, Body and Language in Tibet and the Himalayas

Ann R. David (Invited speaker)

25 Jun 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Modernisation of Musical Traditions: Global perspectives

Ann R. David (Speaker)

15 Mar 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

In conversation with Tara Rajkumar

Ann R. David (Invited speaker)

17 Oct 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Odissi Journey: Public talk

Ann R. David (Invited speaker)

13 Oct 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna (Publisher)

Ann R. David (Peer reviewer)

Oct 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPublication peer-review

Press / Media

BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour

Ann R. David


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

BBC 1 documentary 'British Hinduism'

Ann R. David


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour

Ann R. David


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

BBC News website

Ann R. David


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

The Hindu, national newspaper, India

Ann R. David


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media


Dancing the self: Cypriot sociocultural identity and contemporary choreography

Author: Drogari, E., 25 Jan 2019

Supervisor: Prickett, S. (Supervisor) & David, A. R. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Emerging Contemporary Bharatanatyam Choreoscape in Britain: the City, Hybridity and Technoculture

Author: Banerjee, S., 29 Jun 2015

Supervisor: Grau, A. (Supervisor), Meduri, A. (Supervisor) & David, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Finding Their Dance: A study of the narratives and claims of alterations of belief systems amongst non-professional dancers.

Author: Deborah, W., 24 Apr 2018

Supervisor: Grau, A. (Supervisor) & David, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Making Sense of Dance-Making: Interaction and Organisation in Contemporary Choreographic Processes

Author: Tahko, T., 29 Nov 2016

Supervisor: Pakes, A. (Director of Studies) & David, A. R. (Co-Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis