Skip to main content

Dr Sara Giddens

Reader in Choreographic Practices
School of Arts and Media

Sara teaches across all years on the Dance Performance & Teaching course at UCLan and specialises in choreography, trans-disciplinary site-specific work, community practice and research methodologies. | As a choreographer, director and creative facilitator, Sara’s focus has been upon producing high quality practice and accompanying text-based dissemination. She has created an extensive portfolio of performance and installation works, through a sustained commitment to challenging the borders and boundaries of dance, receiving numerous national and international commissions (1996 – present).

Passionate about embodied and lived-experience, Sara has published widely in the fields of choreography, site-specific, and collaborative work. Her work extends across traditional disciplinary boundaries into ethnography and cultural mapping. Sara has received consistent and significant funding and external support, from within and outside of academia, building long-term, national and international partnerships. She has made over 30 national and international bespoke and touring works, many with Bodies in Flight

Sara leads the Dance and Somatic Research Group (DSRG, part of UCLanDance). Her consultancy work crosses cultural and educational contexts, often specialising in work with Looked After Children (LAC), building resilience and developing safe and nurturing spaces with adults and young people. Her recent work has foregrounded dwelling as a practice, connected to both outcome and process, across a wide range of research and pedagogical contexts. Recent publications relating to this practice include, ‘Dwelling in the in-between’, Choreographic Journal, 10 (2) 2020 and ‘Employing dwelling to re-consider individual and collaborative relationships to pedagogical practice’, Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 10 (1) 2018.

Sara has been at the forefront of Practice-as-Reseach (P-a-R) in performance since 1990, developing and realising a refined artistic practice within a deeply reflective and purposeful research agenda. Her practice continues to challenge not just what dance is, but where it may take place, infront of whom and who might be involved.Her work is innovative, keenly observed, and realized prolifically. The inter-dependence between Research, Teaching, Learning, and Professional Practice is key. In part, Sara’s reputation at the cutting-edge of performance practice and dissemination is derived from her long-standing and sustained work with Professor Simon Jones (Bristol University) through their company Bodies in Flight.

Since 1990, Sara has choreographed over 30 national and international bespoke and touring works (performances/installations/films). These include a range of dance/performance works challenging themes of artistic and community engagement with place and space. A 2012 commissioned project Gymnast, created in response to the London 2012 Games, was made for gymnastics clubs, theatres and galleries, and alongside her gallery work, Still Moving: Moving Still, was taken to the British Council showcase, as part of Edinburgh Festival (2012). From June to September (2012) four short films made as part of Gymnast, were screened daily across all 23 of the BBC’s city centre Big Screens erected for London 2012, and broadcast to a footfall of 3.4 million. The Dream-Walks, a series of site-specific ambulant performances, were made and performed in Singapore (2009), Nottingham (2010), Bristol (2010), Wirksworth (2011), Skegness (2012 and 2013), and as part of two AHRC funded projects, the Connected Communities programme in Cardiff (2014), and a Heritage Lottery Funded project, Know Your Bristol (2016). Sara reflects upon these performance walks in ‘Dwelling in the in-between’, published in Choreographic Journal, 10 (2) 2020 and with Professor Jones (2015 and 2013) in From Work to Play: making Bodies in Flight's performance walk Dream-work. In: Nancy Duxbury, WF Garrett-Petts, David MacLennan (eds) Cultural Mapping as Cultural Enquiry. Routledge, London, pp. 303-318 and in Working the Middle Ground: Making Bodies in Flight's Performance Walk. In: Animation in Public Space Through the Arts: toward more sustainable communities. Almedina, Coimbra, pp. 140-160. Committed to challenging the borders and boundaries of dance, recent commissions include Dance4 and Lakeside Arts co-commission of Bodies in Flight’s Life Class (2020-ongoing); and Birmingham International Festival and DanceXchange’s commission of Still Moving: Moving Still (2018). An earlier version of Still Moving: Moving Still (2013) was the first piece of choreography to be commissioned and presented in the gallery spaces and walk-ways of Nottingham Contemporary and was developed from a (2012) performance and accompanying 3 week installation made for Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, as part of a major AHRC funded project, Performing Documents. A seven screen video installation, Still-ing, presented at Talking, Thinking, Dancing, commissioned by International Centre for Choreography (2017], drew upon Sara’s post-doctoral work, and was one of two works representing the UK at the Artistic Doctorates in Europe (ADiE) inaugural event. Subsequent writing, ‘Some thoughts about Writing’, is published (2019) in Researching (in/as) Motion: A Resource Collection, Artistic Doctorates in Europe, (eds.) Jane Bacon, Rebecca Hilton, Paula Kramer, and Vida L Midgelow, Theatre Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki: Nivel 10 and is available online at:

  • PhD Dance, University of Middlesex, 2015
  • BA (Hons), Lancaster University 1987
  • National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2018
  • Arts Award
  • Artsmark
  • Attachment Awareness
  • Choreography
  • Collaboration
  • Creative Teaching & Learning
  • Dwelling
  • Practice-as-Research
  • Site-specific / Still-ing
  • Fellow of The Higher Education Academy Yoga for Young People (British Wheel of Yoga)
  • ADA (LA and MOD associate member)