Rachael Davies to begin PhD on Chisenhale Dance Space’s archives

CDS is honoured and delighted to announce Rachael Davies’ appointment as PhD candidate researching our 40-year archives.

Rachael will be starting her PhD this autumn at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University, in collaboration with Chisenhale Dance Space and with support from Victoria & Albert Museum Theatre & Performance Dept. The CDS archive offers a rich resource for understanding how the organisation has collaborated with artists, revealing how artists have worked, survived and been supported, and how this has shaped the current dance ecosystem.

Rachael is a curator and researcher based in London. She is currently Public Programme Curator and Gallery Manager at Cell Project Space, London. In 2020, she curated ‘X6 Dance Space (1976-80): Liberation Notes’ at Cell Project Space, the first exhibition to document the work of the X6 Collective. Other curatorial projects include events with Sanna Helena Berger & Shade Théret, Shadow Sisters, Harriet Middleton Baker, Josephine Callaghan and Sean Roy Parker. 

Building on her existing research into the British New Dance movement (1977-88) and the X6 Collective, Rachael will be working with the Chisenhale Dance Space archive to provide a historical and cultural analysis of its early work (1980-88).  Her research will position CDS historically, examine its influence on the development of dance practices and consider its activities as a response to the socio-political climate of 1980s Britain.

Last Autumn, we announced open applications for this fully-funded opportunity. The project is a four-year Collaborative Doctoral Award as part of the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. Rachael will be supervised by Simon Ellis with Rosemary Lee at CDaRE – both artists and academics with long relationships to CDS, in collaboration with Daniel Pitt, current Director at CDS.

Simon says, “The team at C-DaRE is excited to work with Chisenhale Dance and Rachael on this Collaborative Doctoral Award. Opportunities to critically reflect on the past of arts organisations are rare, and this is a timely and important project that will challenge Rachael as she works first-hand with CDS’s archive and legacy.”

Daniel says, “At this point of uncertainty for so much and so many in the arts – CDS included – I’m delighted to be able to announce the fantastic appointment of Rachael as PhD candidate. As we enter a new era for the economy, her research will surely bring on new resonances and help build the narrative around the survival of experimental dance in times of austerity.”

Photos: ‘X6 Dance Space (1976-80)- Libertation Notes’, Installation views, Cell Project Space, 2020 by Rob Harris