Ann R. David

Ann R. David

Professor, Professor of Dance and Cultural Engagement,


Research activity per year

Personal profile


I am Professor Emerita 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 published 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. 

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 and 2021 REF. Publications classified as 4* and 3*
  • Funded Research Fellowships (2 months) at the Fondazione Centro Incontri Umani, Ascona, Switzerland, 2020 & 2021.
  • Commissioned monograph of Ram Gopal, Indian dancer for Bloomsbury publishers
  • 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
  • Research Mentor for department staff
  • Published work viewed on over 19,000 times worldwide; over 2,600 downloads of my published papers and over 2,400 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

Boards/Committees (internal and external)

  • Council Trustee, Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) (2021-current).
  • Council Trustee, University of Roehampton (2016-2022); Committee member for Honorary Awards (2015-2022).
  • Chair of RAI (Royal Anthropological Institute) Ethnomusicology Committee (2022).
  • Member of RAI (Royal Anthropological Institute) Ethnomusicology committee (2020-2022)
  • Chair of Board of Pagrav Dance Company (2017-2022)
  • Trustee of Board of Akademi (2015-current)
  • 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 (2015-2017).
  • 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

Reviewer/Assessor/External Consultancy

  • Invited co-editor of special edition Istanbul University Journal of Women’s Studies (2022-23)
  • Nominated fellow for ESF’s College of Expert Reviewers (Research Foundation Flanders).
  • Consultant for Oxford English Dictionary (2022).
  • Member of AHRC Advisory Board ‘Dance Research Matters’ (2021-current).
  • Member of Academic Advisory Board for AHRC-funded project ‘Social Distance, Ritual Congregation: British Ritual Innovation under COVID-19’ at Manchester Met University (2020-21).
  • Assessor for Paris Region Fellowship Programme (ParisRegionFP), EU co-funded Marie Sklodowska Curie Action (2021)
  • Assessor for ESF post-doctoral applications, Research Foundation Flanders (2019-2020)
  • Consultant for Lottery Heritage project, A meeting of Cultures: Uday Shankar and Anna Pavlova (2018)
  • Consultant for Lottery Heritage project Garuda: Celebrating Ram Gopal (2016)
  • 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 & workshops

  • Research workshop leader, “Rethinking Asian (and other) Techniques of the Bodymind: An Integrated Approach to Neuroscience, Anthropology, Psychology and Textual Studies”, Centro Incontri Umani, Switzerland(2022).
  • Panel speaker at Uzbekistan Embassy on dance & culture (2022).
  • Speaker for International Women’s Day, hosted by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNC) Regional Centre, Varodha (2022).
  • Speaker for Mudra & the Diamond Spheres, Core of Culture & Yangchenma Arts & Music (2021).
  • Speaker for Uparajita Dance Festival, Nehru Centre, London (2021).
  • Speaker for Manch UK live webinar, honouring Sunil Kothari (2020)
  • Panelist for Webinar, Gujarat India: ‘The Circle of Energy: Garba and Raas in Gujarat’ (2020)
  • Speaker at online event for ‘Womens’ Day’, Merton Sai Baba Centre (2020)
  • Panelist for Sampad Webinar: ‘An Intercultural Dialogue in Dance’, part of South Asian Heritage Month (2020)
  • 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)


  • Tribute to Sunil Kothari, Eastern Eye, (Jan 2021).
  • 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, (2022); University of Roehampton, London (2021);  University of London, King's College, (2019); University of Sydney (2018); Warwick University (2017); Macquarie University, Australia (2015); Durham University (2014); Exeter University (2013); University of Roehampton (2010); Bharathidasan University, India (2008).  


Twitter: @AnnRDavid

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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