Exemplary student research

Recognition by the Faculty of Education for exemplary student research.

Philip Nind Awards for outstanding undergraduate dissertations

This award is given to undergraduate dissertations that demonstrate qualities above and beyond the parameters of undergraduate expectations.


An investigation into whether the study of dance as adaptation has the potential to enrich and extend adaptation studies, with reference to Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2011). Author: Siobhán Sexton, BA(Hons) Ballet Education Graduate, 2016.


The Body in Performance: Challenging the conventional performing body and valuing contributions of the ageing body. Author: Ann-Kathrin Ullmann, BA(Hons) Ballet Education Graduate 2015.


No Award


Effective Training for Professional Dancers in 21st Century Australia: A critical analysis of a professional training model for Australian dancers that incorporates liberal arts education. Author: Alicia Hodges, BA(Hons) Dance Education Graduate 2013.


Author: Sarah Iles, BA(Hons) Dance Education Graduate 2012.


I feel differently but I don’t know why: A phenomenological study of ballet and contemporary dance classes. Author: Simone Mousset, BA(Hons) Ballet Education 2011.


Agon as a link metaphor between music and dance in Agon (1957). Author: Rania Leontiou, BA(Hons) Ballet Education 2010.

Exemplary postgraduate research

Helen Linkenbagh, Master of Teaching (Dance) graduate 2015

Latching to music: The role of applied musical knowledge in the acquisition of classical ballet technique

This research project explored ways in which ballet teachers may use applied knowledge of musical elements as a tool in facilitating the acquisition of technical skill in classical ballet.

The aim of the research was to employ musical understanding as a method of enhancing a dancer’s ability to perform with and communicate appropriate artistic and aesthetic qualities. The conceptual framework for the project arose from notions of latching to music and encompassed ideas about musical affordances, musical entrainment and dynamic forms of vitality. These concepts were integrated into tasks that were enacted within a classical ballet training context to investigate ways in which attuned musical responses may extend bodily agency in profiling and facilitating movement.

The findings provided preliminary evidence that enacting forms of embodied knowledge of musical structures in classical ballet classes can constitute a participatory process whereby the dancer, in response to constitutive tools afforded by the music, produces an inherently musical dance. This dance, whether explicitly aligned with the musical accompaniment or otherwise, can, with targeted attention in the integration of musical information, take on what we may view as a musical shape or structure of its own in terms of energy, force, rhythm, phrasing, space and dynamics. These notions challenge traditional views of the unilateral, supportive role that music plays in classical ballet classes in proposing that aspects of the musical accompaniment may be more actively embodied in facilitating the dancer in experiencing a dance as an energetically independent musical entity.

Aadya Kaktikar, Master of Teaching (Dance) graduate 2015

Dancing in-between Spaces: An auto-ethnographic investigation into the pedagogical shifts of the learning and teaching of Odissi within Higher Education in India

This research project developed out of a critical reflection of my position as a dance teacher in one of the first Liberal Arts universities in India. The scope of the project emerged out of the negotiations that facilitated the migration of the dancer (myself) and the dance, from the drawing room of the guru to the studios of a School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The trajectory of this transition was mapped in this qualitative, mixed methods research project in terms of teaching methods and the learning outcomes of my Odissi class at the university.

The project examined my class in the context of extant traditional dance pedagogy shaped within a complex framework of understandings around Indian culture and tradition. Driven by questions and issues around my own identity as an Indian classical dancer, this auto-ethnographic study drew out the contours of the relocation by highlighting the personal narratives of those who participated in the class. As Odissi re-positioned itself as an academic discipline in an undergraduate Liberal arts programme, this project critically analyses the emergent pedagogical stance that enabled it to do so.

It also examined how the confluence of two different pedagogical approaches; that of the critical thinking in the Liberals arts and submission and immersion in the traditional arts, created the possibility for the students of transcending boundaries and creating a space for a vibrant engagement with the idea of tradition.

Research output

Kaktikar, Aadya. “Dancing in-between spaces: An Auto-ethnographic exploration of an abhinaya class”. Research in Dance Education, 15 February 2016.

Lee Davall, Master of Teaching (Dance) Graduate 2013

Developing two leadership skills of listening and providing constructive feedback through peer assessment strategies amongst a cohort of Key Stage 3 students in a secondary school

Developing leadership skills is a growing concern in education for the schooling of 21st-century students. There is a lack of research examining how peer assessment strategies can improve student leadership skills. Most initiatives have been aimed at the gifted and talented students to enhance leadership skills. This dissertation focuses on developing two leadership skills (amongst a group of secondary school students): listening skill and the skill of providing constructive feedback through peer assessment strategies. This dissertation adopted a qualitative interpretive perspective to analyse the primary data collected from student questionnaires, teacher-researcher reflective diary and semi-structured interviews.

The findings provide information on the teacher-researcher’s and students’ perceptions of using peer assessment strategies of checklists and „what went well/even better if‟ to improve student leadership skills. The main conclusion drawn from this research was students‟ ability to listen and provide constructive feedback improved. Furthermore, within the context of this research it was found that students being given the opportunity to lead sections of lessons could have a positive influence on their ownership of learning. The research emphasizes the importance of further study investigating how to improve leadership skills through different assessment strategies.

NDTA Conference Paper “Developing Leadership Skills: Becoming constructive at KS3 – Sharing of the MTD705 findings”, November 2015

Co-presenter with Fiona Brooker at Harris Federation Teaching and Learning Conference, March 2016.

Carly Murphy Master of Teaching (Dance) Graduate 2013

How can the utilisation of dance techniques and movement vocabularies enhance the creative processes in choreographic practice?

This action research project explores the relationship between dance technique and choreographic practice for enhancing creativity in Key Stage 3 (KS3) Dance. The notion of creativity is explored from a pedagogical perspective, balancing the relationship between the individual, the domain and the environment (Craft 2000) as a means of promoting authenticity, divergence and originality in students’ work. By engaging students in dance technique as a basis of experiential knowledge, they have the potential to develop an enriched physical literacy (McFee 2004; Whitehead 2007) which can inform their choreography. The project considers how this increased sense of bodily knowledge can result in increasing students’ awareness of their capacity for movement, improve their dance skills and develop a heightened sense of self, which can contribute to enhancing creativity.

Qualitative data gathered from students’ experiences during an 8-week choreographic project identifies how knowledge transformed through perception and experience can reveal an increased sense of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1997) and confidence in a student’s approach to dance tasks which resulted in a noticeably enhanced creative response. Reflecting on the outcome of the findings suggestions are made to identify the potential for developing a dance pedagogy which encourages somatic principles as a way to develop embodied knowledge. There is a need to re-evaluate the importance of emphasising the role of bodily knowledge in the dance curriculum in order to balance its creative, aesthetic and artistic aims and to enhance the role of the individual in these processes.