Consent, touch and power: Exploring intimacy direction and inclusion in dance

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International, including EU at international rates from Sept 21)

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Kathryn Stamp.


Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD exploring the areas of intimacy direction and inclusive dance practice, and that seeks to investigate concepts such as consent, touch and power.

Intimacy direction, the process of choreographing stage movement to aid storytelling and character relationships, is in the spotlight, thanks to popular television shows such as Normal People. Commonly coupled with movement direction in plays, intimacy directors work with performers in how to develop touch and contact-heavy work or negotiating sexual topics or storylines (Westenfeld 2020).

‘Inclusivity’ is rooted in the idea that diversity is celebrated and “difference-based needs are met” (Artpradid 2022: 435). How do practices of intimacy direction change our understanding of inclusive practices in dance (and vice versa)?

Through theoretical analysis and practical exploration of key concepts like touch, proxemics, consent and difference, this project will investigate the principles that underpin intimacy direction practices and explore how these are applied to dancers, and particularly dancers with non-normative bodies. To expand this developing area of practice (intimacy direction and inclusive dance), and to deepen understanding of inclusion through bodily intimacy, the candidate will develop practical interventions that generate new understandings on inclusive practice in dance.

Project details

Inclusion is a commonly used term, particularly within the acronym EDI: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Within dance, inclusive practice refers to the particular ‘field’ of dance that encourages disabled people’s participation in dance classes, performances or professional practice. Disabled dancers have tacit knowledge and specific lived experience of touch, care, consent, power and proximity. However, they can be stereotyped through dominant narratives of asexuality and undesirability, leading to issues of exclusion. By drawing inclusive dance practices in dialogue with recent developments in intimacy direction, this project will expand to challenge these negative perceptions and develop a deeper understanding of inclusion.

Research into intimacy directors and dance is limited. Intimacy direction is relatively new and there are only a handful of intimacy directors working in the UK dance sector. Therefore, understanding how intimacy directors shape relationships within dance spaces and negotiate touch, proximity, and safety with dancers is significantly undocumented. This project seeks to fill this gap and extend fledgling discussions around dance practice and intimacy direction to offer new perspectives on the concept of inclusion.

It is expected that outcomes of this project will include written research analysing intimacy direction practices, their relationship to dance and exploration of concepts that straddle inclusive dance practice and intimacy direction. The practice-based intervention will result in recommendations for furthering practice in both inclusive dance and intimacy direction fields.


Bursary and tuition fees.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

The Creative Cultures theme is developing a strong community of researchers engaged in different modes and levels of practice, who are expanding ideas in different practice methodologies. The student will have opportunities to develop their skills in practical elements of research, including participation in research methodology modules and seminars.

There are many opportunities available for the student to get involved with sector organisations and develop their skills and experience of dance-specific academia.

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

 For further details please visit:

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Kathryn Stamp.

Details of all available research opportunities at Coventry University can be found via

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, and an up-to 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

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