This is...where we are now




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


Dance Books


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



This chapter responds to the heading of ‘Disruptions and Confluences of Dance Studies’ and is informed by the performance This is… where we are now that was presented by the two authors at the Dance Fields conference. The performance uses dancing and speaking to investigate how memory can serve as a fundamental line of enquiry to produce improvised contemporary performance. This is… where we are now develops multiple layers of meaning for both performers and audience through the interrelationship of movement and text. Doughty and Shenton recall and tell personal memories that are positioned concurrently with – at times – seemingly unrelated movement material. It operates at the intersections between individual, collective and confluent memory to produce witty, thought provoking and unexpected commentaries on one’s past and present self. It asks performers and audience alike to consider ‘where are we now?’ at any one moment during the work, and Doughty and Shenton use that same question here to interrogate the intersection of practice and theory.

The chapter challenges the tensions that (still) exist between practice-as-research and academic research by locating the text that evolved during performance within a scholarly frame, promoting it as a mode of knowing. A transcription of Doughty’s and Shenton’s performative text forms the backbone of the chapter, offering readers an insight into the multiple, complex and spontaneous decision making processes that are at play during an improvised performance, and privileging practice-as-research merely through its inclusion in the book. A video of the performance ( further disseminates the work as a practice-based output and images of the performance will be peppered throughout.

The chapter is structured into three distinct parts: a preparatory section outlines the context for and purpose of the performance, and promotes the performative act as a means of knowledge production. The transcription of the text forms the second section and whilst this can stand alone, the video of This is… where we are now deepens the understanding of the work’s development, its use of improvisation in dance and spoken performance and emphasises practice-as-research. The performance text is therefore represented through a mixed economy of written and spoken word. The final section makes reference to various publications authored by dance artists that promote the practice of writing that evolves through and from movement practices, and which support alternative readings and multiple types of engagement with practice.

Positioning the performative words from This is… where we are now in this chapter elevates practice onto an equal par with theory, thus blurring the boundaries in practice and scholarly research to offer a valuable intervention to academic outputs and discourse.

This is… where we are now is supported by Arts Council England, Dance4 and De Montfort University.



Practice research, Memory, Stage to page, Knowledge generation through practice, Written documentation of practice, Improvised performance, Performative text


Doughty, S. and Shenton, P. (2020) This is...where we are now. In: David, A., Huxley, M. and Whatley, S. (Eds.). Dance Fields: Staking a Claim for Dance Studies in the 21st Century. Binsted: Dance Books, pp. 204-219.


Research Institute

Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies