Personal profile


I am Emeritus Professor of Dance History and Ethnography and continue to be research active as well as guest lecturing and supervising for the university. Until my change of status, I supervised PhD students and taught on the MA Dance Anthropology, the collaborative Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage, and contributed to the MA Dance, Philosophy and History. I joined Roehampton in 2013 and my previous academic posts include Head of Dance at the University of Surrey and Professor of Performing Arts at De Montfort University.

To date, I have examined over thirty doctorates in Dance and supervised eighteen to successful completion in the subject. My specialisms are dance history (especially nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century British), dance anthropology and folk dance.

I remain an active reviewer of book and article manuscripts for a wide range of academic journals and publishing houses and am Assistant Editor of Dance Research.  My principal edited books include the following international collections: Dance in the Field: Theory, Methods and Issues in Dance Ethnography (Macmillan, 1999) Dancing from Past to Present: Nation, Culture, Identities (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006) Folklore Revival Movements in Europe post 1950: Shifting Perspectives (with D. Stavělová, 2018) and, with Egil Bakka et al., Waltzing through Europe (2020). I pioneered the academic study, through research, publications and teaching, of the social and cultural history of social dancing in Britain and have published numerous research articles on popular and social dance and on dance as cultural memory. My monograph Society Dancing: Fashionable Bodies in England, 1870-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) charts the changes in social dancing from the late Victorian period to the beginnings of modern English ballroom dancing. The book raises issues of movement socialisation, class and gender, national identity, self-expression and cultural leadership that resonate across the wider dance culture of modern Britain. The people and their dances remain at its heart of this text.

More recent publications include an innovative close analysis of the development of the modern waltz in early twentieth-century England (Dance Research, 2018), issues of gender in morris dancing in the 1970s (2018), dance as an academic discipline in nineteenth-century Britain (Victorian Culture and the Origin of Disciplines, 2019) and transmission across stage and salon in early Victorian dance culture (2023). In press is a chapter on dance, religion and ritual in the nineteenth century for Bloomsbury’s A Cultural History of Dance. Currently, I am preparing commissioned chapters for the Oxford Handbook of Musical Biography and Life-Writing (on historical biographies of dancers), the Cambridge Companion to Folk Music (dance, ritual and the body) and the Oxford Handbook of Ethnochoreology (postmillenial approaches to dance ethnography).

As a recently elected Fellow of the British Academy, I am extremely proud to be the first to represent the field of dance scholarship and to contribute to its work in advancing the relevance and integrity of the arts, humanities and social sciences for all.


Research interests

Social and danced relations across stage and street, particularly in the long nineteenth century; dance history and historiography; theory of dance anthropology, ethnochoreology  and ethnography.



  • PhD, Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies, University of Leeds
  • BA (1st Class), English Language and Literature, University of Leeds

Research projects

  • Society Dancing in England 1870-1920
  • P J S Richardson and Transformation in Social Dancing, 1900-1924
  • Maintaining Social Distinction: The D'Egvilles of Brighton and London, 1830-1900
  • Dance and High Society: Report and Reminiscence, 1870-1914
  • Edward Scott: Socio-cultural perspectives on a late Victorian dancing master
  • Constructs of Identity in North-West English Morris Dancing, 1970-2001
  • The Competitive International Folk Dance Festival

Professional affiliations

  • Congress on Research in Dance
  • English Folk Dance and Song Society
  • The Folklore Society
  • International Council for Traditional Music
  • Society for Dance Research
  • Society for Dance History Scholars
  • Social History Society
  • Society for Ethnomusicology
  • PopMoves (UK consortium of universities, with focus on teaching and research in popular dance)
  • Nineteenth Century Derived Couple Dances (European Working Group, ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology)

Consultancy work

  • Peer Review Board, European Research Council
  • Assistant Editor, Dance Research
  • Editorial Board, Folk Music Journal
  • Editorial Board, Folklore

Media Consultancy

  • Consultant for BBC's The One Show: feature on exhibition dancers Irene and Vernon Castle (2014)
  • Consultant for BBC's online magazine iWonder: feature entitled Dirty dances: A timeline of the moves that shocked (2014)
  • Consultant and interviewee for Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance, BBC FOUR TV series presented by Dr Lucy Worsley and Len Goodman (2014)
  • Interviewee, Thinking Allowed, with Laurie Taylor, BBC Radio Four (2013)
  • Invited speaker, Victoria and Albert Museum, London Beauty and the Ball: Fashion, Society and Ballgowns exhibition. Lecture entitled 'Dancing and Decorum at the Society Ball' (2012)
  • Specialist Advisor, Deborah Bull's Dance Nation, BBC Radio Four (2012)


Notable Achievements

Fellow of the British Academy