Sarah Whatley

Accidental archives of performance making

Sarah Whatley
(C-DaRE) at Coventry University.


This presentation will introduce the online toolkit created during the AHRC-funded Resilience and Inclusion: Dancers as Agents of Change project. The aim of the toolkit is to provide a series of learning materials, introducing themes that are pertinent to disabled dance artists and professional theatre programmers, curators etc. Although the primary aim of the toolkit is the transmission of information for training purposes, the toolkit has simultaneously created a carefully curated repository of performance documents and related materials with a film at the core out of which many of the learning materials emerge. The film, created by artists to document the messy and mostly private process of the dance rehearsal, and specifically the collaborative practice of professional disabled dancers who are frequently absent from archival records of performance, takes on new significance when located within the toolkit that acts as a large repository or ‘accidental archive’ of performance or performance-related documents. More particularly, the film specifically documents the processes towards performance, and not the performance (product) itself. Notwithstanding the challenges of making materials ‘open’, often connected to institutional gatekeeping, this presentation will present the film and share questions about the documenting of process (in various forms and formats) to ask what value these process documents hold, for the artist and audience, and for those who are responsible for their safe keeping.

Sarah Whatley:   is Professor and Director of the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University. Her research focuses on dance and new technologies, dance analysis and documentation, somatic dance practice and pedagogy, and inclusive dance. The AHRC, EU, and the Leverhulme and Wellcome Trusts fund her current projects. These include projects that explore the creative reuse of digital cultural content and smart learning environments for dancers. She is also founding editor of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and sits on the editorial boards of several other Journals.