Dr Karen Wood

Senior Lecturer in Dance Practice and Performance

Email address: karen.wood@wlv.ac.uk Phone number: 01902 322009 Location: WH Building Faculty: Faculty of Arts School/Institute: School of Performing Arts Areas of expertise: Dance


Karen is currently a dance practitioner/ researcher/ educator. She works for the University of Wolverhampton as a Dance Lecturer and at the Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University, as a Research Assistant on the Invisible Difference project. Karen is also working on artistic projects, supported by Arts Council England, collaborating with other art forms, such as neuroscience, fine art, lighting design and music were she creates and performs in dance pieces for traditional and non-traditional spaces. Her current project, the Stream Project, is a collaboration between dance, neuroscience and technology and has so far produced a series of works including a live performance, a dance film (shown at Lightmoves Festival of Screendance, Ireland) and an installation at FACT, Liverpool.

She has a keen interest in the inclusive training of young dancers and, in particular, how supplementary training helps to improve dancers' knowledge of their body and improve performance. She consults on the Centre for Advanced Training Programme at the Lowry Theatre, Salford and had regularly taught on and help set up the programme from its inception. She obtained her MSc in Dance Science at Trinity Laban, London in 2006 and completed her PhD, funded by an AHRC studentship, at the University of Manchester.

Research interests

Research and Scholarly Activity

My research is primarily focussed on embodiment and kinesthetic sensabilities and how this is experienced through participating in and watching live and screen dance. I am interested in the interface between dance and technology, embodied practice and pedagogy, training of dancers and dance with differently abled bodies. These interests have led to interdisciplinary collaborations in practice and a deep understanding of using somatic dance practices in dance training.

I am a keen advocate of working in the profession and bringing this experience into academia, crossing an invisible bridge, to better the student experience and develop the future dancers and leaders of our industry. Collaborating with other artists, institutions and academics is very important to me to gain further insight and new knowledge in the art form.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Member, International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, United States, 2005 - present
  • Member, Dance Film Association, United States, 2008 - present
  • Member, DanceHE Early Careers Network, United Kingdom, 2014 - present
  • Member of Strategy group for Manchester Dance Consortium, United Kingdom, 2012 - present
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2015 - present


  • 1993 - 1995 Teaching Membership of International Dance Teacher’s Association, Woodlands School of Dance, Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • 2001 - 2003 Certificate in Teaching, Royal Academy of Dance, London, United Kingdom
  • 2002 - 2005 BA (Hons) Dance Performance, School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
  • 2005 - 2006 Certificate in Counselling Skills, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • 2006 - 2007 Masters of Science Degree, Title: Neurofeedback and Dancers’ Mood.” Dance Science, Trinity Laban, London, United Kingdom
  • 2008 - 2012 Doctorate, Thesis Title: “Kinesthetic Empathy and Screendance Audiences.”  University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 2014 - 2015 Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Wolverhampton


  • Wood, K. 'Audience as community: Corporeal knowledge and empathetic viewing (2015)'. International Journal of Screendance, (5)
  • Wood, K. 'Kinesthetic Empathy: Conditions for viewing'. In The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies (forthcoming). Ed. by Rosenberg, D. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Wood, K. (2014) 'The sensory nature of ballet'. In Ballet, Why and How? On the role of the classical ballet in dance education. Ed. by Brown, D. and Vos, M. Amsterdam: ArtEZ Press, 81-88
  • Ehrenberg, S., and Wood, K. (2011) 'Kinesthetic Empathy: Concepts and Contexts, Manchester University, England, 22 - 23 April, 2010'. Dance Research 43 (2). Available from http://www.jstor.org/stable/i23266958
  • Wood, K. (2015). 'Audience as community: Corporeal knowledge and empathetic viewing'. International Journal of Screendance, 5, p.29-42
  • Wood, K. (2016) Maya Deren: Incomplete Control by Sarah Keller reviews in International Journal of Screendance, 6
  • Wood, K. 'Kinesthetic Empathy: Conditions for viewing'. In The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies (2016). Ed. by Rosenberg, D. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Refereed Articles in Academic Journals

  • Wood, K. (2010). 'An investigation into the Strictly Come Dancing experience on TV'. Participations: International Journal of Audience Research, 7, 2 (Nov 2010)

Refereed and Published Conference Proceedings

  • Wood, Karen 2008 How can neurofeedback help to reduce dancers’ anxiety?, International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, The 18th Annual Meeting, Intercontinental Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Wood, Karen 2009 (presented on behalf of Emma Redding et al) Dance science: Scientific investigations into the effect of dance specific fitness training and its impact upon pedagogic practices and dance performance, International symposium on Performance Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Conference Presentations

  • Wood, Karen; 2014. ‘Wired and Reversible’, Research Salon, Coventry University. 21st May 2014
  • Wood, Karen. ‘Wired to the Dance’, New Research conference, University of Wolverhampton, 07th July 2014
  • Wood, Karen. ‘Kinesthetic and Wired’, Lightmoves Festival and symposium of screendance, Limerick, Ireland. 9th November 2014
  • Wood, Karen., Morfill, Sally. ‘Echo: Digital Interventions in a conversation between Dance and Drawing’. Digital Echoes symposium, Coventry University, 13th February 2015
  • Karen Wood and Frances Clarke, ‘Dance science in an undergraduate dance programme: a multidisciplinary approach’. DanceHE conference, Leicester, April 2015
  • ‘Kinesthetic and Wired’, 14th September 2016, Research Symposium, Walsall
  • Part of a panel entitled: Dance and Our Intangible Cultural Heritage Panel, Sustaining the Discipline: Embedding the Right to Dance in the C21st. 28th & 29th October 2016, DanceHE annual conference, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds, U.K
  • Movement Identity Through Motion Capture, 4th – 6th November 2016, Lightmoves Festival of Screendance, Dance Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
  • Part of a panel entitled: Human-Computer- Interaction: WhoLo DancE Project, Immersive Archives and Dance Data Panel, 21st June 2017, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Coventry University 
  • WhoLoDance: Mediated real and virtual dancing bodies, Dance and Somatic Practices Conference 7th-9th July 2017, Coventry University

Experience in industry

  • 'A searching mind...' film shown at Lightmoves film Festival, Limerick, Ireland, November 6-9th 2014
  • 'Wired 2' installation at FACT, Liverpool, 31st March - 17th May 2015
  • Karen Wood, 100m Line, Five Years Gallery, Broadway, London (performance)
  • A Searching Mind...(film) and Wired 2 (installation),Turn Dance Festival, 20th-22nd April 2016. Contact Theatre, Manchester
  • Wired 2 (installation), Fact, Liverpool, March – May 2015
  • A Searching Mind...(film), 4th – 6th November 2016, Lightmoves Festival of Screendance, Dance Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
  • Wired 2, MOCO, Goldsmiths University, London. 28th-30th June 2017

Employment History

  • 2013 - present, University of Wolverhampton, Senior lecturer in dance
  • 2013 - present, Coventry University, Research Associate
  • 2009 - Present, Centre for Advanced Training, Lowry Theatre, Performance Enhancement Leader
  • 2011 - Present, Tap Rhythm Project, Manchester, Project Leader and teacher
  • 2011 - 2013, Manchester Metropolitan University, Associate Lecturer, Dance Dept, Centre for Contemporary Arts, teaching dance technique, Choreography and video dance, practice as research.
  • 2012 - 2013, Edge Hill University, Associate Lecturer, teaching dance fitness
  • 2008 - 2013, Manchester, Freelance Dance Artist
  • 2007 - 2008, Trinity Laban, London, Dance Science Graduate Assistant
  • 2006 - 2008, Montage Theatre Arts, Deptford, London, Programme Manager
  • 2006 - 2008, London, Freelance Dance Artist
  • 1994 - 2006, Woodlands School of Dance, Birmingham, Dance teacher and dancer
  • 2004 - 2005, DanceXchange, Birmingham, Dance Advance project co-ordinator


Main areas of teaching interests: Embodiment practices, theory of embodiment, Choreography, technique, screen dance theory and practice, New Strategies in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and Dance Research Methods

Previous modules taught: Dance Fitness (first year), Choreography and Video Dance (First years), Choreographic Studies (third year), Dance Performance (first and third years), Music, Design and Video (second years), Dance Technique, Dance Science, Choreolab. Dissertation Projects (third year)

Pedagogic Interests

Main areas of interest: Facilitating choreographic development with use of technologies (mainly film). Integrating dance science principles into inclusive teaching practice.  Developing somatic practices and embodied awareness in the studio.  Developing Reflective Teaching Practice

Pursuit of interests: About to start Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education September 2014, Continuing exploration of practicing as Artistic Researcher and Practice As Research in Dance.  Membership of University Committees

Relevant External Activities

  • 2012 - Present: Member of the strategy group for Manchester Dance Consortium
  • 2009 - 2011: Education Programmer for Moves International Film Festival, Liverpool and on selection panel for Moves Film festival 2011

Media Experience

2012 - Present: Co-Director of Platform 0 at Contact Theatre, Z-Arts Centre, One Picadilly Place, Manchester, UK for Manchester Dance Consortium

Research Grants and Awards

  • Rebecca Skelton Award (2011) to participate in Authentic Movement workshops with Linda Hartley and Ecological Movement workshops with Sandra Reeve
  • Echo (2013) – ACE funded, working with Sally Morfill, Visual artist, performed at MMU and Five Years Gallery, London. This work explores the intersection of drawing with dance
  • Sound Moves (2013) – ACE funded, music and dance improvisation project with Band On The Wall and Contact Theatre as dance artist
  • Manchester Dance Consortium (2012 – present) – ACE funded, project set up to nurture dance ecology in Manchester. Strategy group member. (2 awards received for this)
  • The Stream Project (2013 – present) – Received ACE funding, Cornerhouse Microcommision, Creative Coder residency; Artistic Director. Working with neuroscientist Tony Steffert and dancer, Genevieve Say

Choreographic and Creative Achievements

  • Echo (2013) – drawing constructed and improvised performance at Open Space, Manchester Metropolitan University. This included 5 dancers, 4 of whom were undergraduates at the university
  • 100m Line (2013) – performed at Five Years Art Gallery, East London as part of the Fragments project
  • Sound Moves (2013) – performed at Band On The Wall and Contact Theatre, Manchester  music and dance improvisation project with 3 musicians and 2 dancers
  • Manchester Dance Consortium (2012 – present) – project set up to nurture dance ecology in Manchester. We deliver biennial platforms for works in progress to receive audience feedback to help development. Strategy group member 
  • The Stream Project (2013 – present) – Artistic Director. Working with neuroscientist Tony Steffert, Creative Coder Ben Lycett and dancer, Genevieve Say. Performed ‘Wired’ at Platform 0.1, Z-Arts, Manchester, Performance Research Festival, Wolverhampton University and a version of the work, ‘Wired:2’ installed at FACT, Liverpool

Further information

Postgraduate Supervision:

Karen is available for PhD supervision in the following areas:

  • embodiment and kinesthetic sensibilities, and how this is experienced through participating in and watching live and screen dance
  • the interface between:
  • dance and technology
  • embodied practice and pedagogy
  • the training of dancers and dance with differently abled bodies
  • somatic dance practices in dance training