Changing perspectives through somatically informed dance praxis
: reflections of one to one dance and Parkinson’s practice as home performance

  • Melanie Brierley

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    How does somatically informed dance practice support health in people with Parkinson’s? As a process of change, how might somatically informed practice alter the perspectives of the dance artist and people living with Parkinson’s? As research practitioner, what can I learn about the relationship of dance to health through the creative process of one to one Dance and Parkinson’s practice? Valuing the person with Parkinson’s, the creative process, and the art form of dance, my thesis examines one to one, co-creative, and somatically informed dance practice. It aims to support health in people living with Parkinson’s and promote change in the perceptions of the dance artist and research participants. Through my Action research project ‘Home Performance’, shared dance practice creates embodied knowledge through which a new framework of one to one Dance and Parkinson’s practice emerges. My approach to practice is compared with the work of three eminent Dance and Parkinson’s artists from the United States and triangulated through Somatic inquiry. My methodology explores a Deleuzian informed feminist perspective which parallels Somatic theory and practice. Dance supports health in the whole person and changes perspectives in people with Parkinson’s through a shifting, unfolding, bio-psycho-social process. One to one practice is performative and intra-active, with explorative dance encounters connecting partners through spatial and haptic engagement in the home environment. A corporeal exchange, and means of promoting power-sharing relationships, the creative process of one to one Dance and Parkinson’s practice promotes health and alters perceptions through processes of change, connection, and flow. Empathy and understanding grow through shared dance experiences, with one to one Dance and Parkinson’s practice a process for promoting self-care, and care for the ‘other’.
    Date of Award31 Jul 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorEmilyn Claid (Director of Studies) & Sara Houston (Supervisor)


    • Dance
    • Parkinson’s
    • Somatics
    • One to one
    • Action research
    • Home-based practice

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