Department of Dance

Visiting address
009 Lawrence, Froebel

Phone: +44 (0)20 8392 3658


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. 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 Senate and 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. Publications include co-editing and a chapter in a book on dance ethnography, Dance Ethnography and Global Perspectives: Identity, Embodiment, and Culture (Palgrave, 2013), as well as 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

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

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


  • Chair of Board of Pagrav Dance Company
  • Trustee of Board of Akademi
  • 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


  • Editorial Board, South Asian Popular Culture journal 
  • 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

  • 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, Romanace & 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


  • Ethnographic fieldwork;
  • Dance and ritual;
  • Popular and urban dance;
  • Dance in cultures;
  • South Asian dance;
  • Conceptualisations of the body

PhD Examining:

  • 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


  1. FRSA

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  2. FHEA

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  3. Roehampton Teaching Award

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

View all (5) »

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