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Dr Rachel Rimmer-Piekarczyk

Senior Lecturer
Drama and Contemporary Performance

I am an artist, scholar and Senior Lecturer at the Manchester School of Theatre. My practice-based research explores the relationship between westernised training structures of dance and performance more broadly, dialogical modes of critical reflection and agency. I have published widely on this topic and have recently contributed to a new edited volume on dance training in Britain titled Ethical Agility in Dance: Rethinking Technique in British Contemporary Dance. As a core member of the internationally recognised contemporary performance group, Reckless Sleepers, I have contributed to a variety of artistic projects in a performing, devising and facilitating capacity, touring with the company on an international scale since 2012. My artistic practice has led to an interest in contemporary scored performance, with a focus on how scores act as structures through which performer agency can emerge. I have a PhD in dance studies, a Masters in Contemporary Arts (completed with Distinction), a BA Hons degree in Community Arts and a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, making me a Fellow of Advance HE.

Academic and Professional Qualifications

PhD in Dance Studies: Manchester Metropolitan University (2014 - 2021). 

MA Contemporary Arts: Manchester Metropolitan University (2009 - 2011). 

BA Community Arts: Manchester Metropolitan University (2004 - 2007). 

Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice: Manchester Metropolitan University (2011 - 2013). 

Previous Employment

Senior Lecturer (and Programme Leader) on BA Hons Dance: Manchester Metropolitan University (2011 - 2019). 

Postgraduate Research Supervision

I am currently supervising PhD students who are undertaking studies in the areas of contemporary theatre practice and pedagogy and musical composition. 

External Examiner Roles

I am the External Examiner for the BA Hons Dance and Creative Performance programme at The University of Wolverhampton. 


Research Interests

My scholarly research draws upon my experience as a teacher-practitioner who is engaged in contemporary performance, dance training and education more broadly. My research predominantly explores the use of critical reflection in body-based training contexts, examining the relationship between embodiment, reflection and post-structuralist perspectives on agency. For example, my doctoral study utilised an ethnographic-action research methodology to examine how the dominant pedagogical discourses of western dance technique education can be subverted through the use of critical reflection. Drawing upon the work of Pierre Bourdieu (1977), Paulo Freire (1972) and Phillip Zarrilli (2020), my thesis examined the social conditions of the training setting for contemporary dance techniques, exploring how these conditions impact upon the dancer’s ability to exercise agency. I have published findings from this study in several peer reviewed journals including Research in Dance Education, the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices and Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 

I also investigate these ideas within the context of my own practice as an artist/performer with the internationally recognised contemporary performance group, Reckless Sleepers. For example, I have co-presented a performance-presentation at the 'Subject/Object/Practice/Place: Connecting Creatively Through the Performing Arts' conference at the University Malta (March 2024) and the MMU Performance Research Group's 'Performing Scores/Scoring Performance' conference (July 2023) with fellow dance academic and member of Reckless Sleepers, Lisa Kendall. Within this, we examine our embodiment of the choreographic score for A String Section, which is a Reckless Sleepers piece that that I have been involved in devising and performing in since 2012. During this performance-presentation, Kendall and I interrogate notions of structure, agency and destabilisation, attempting to articulate embodied knowledge acquired through our engagement with the score. This ongoing critical reflection informs each performance of the work, facilitating a praxical relationship between theoretical ideas and my artistic practice.

Book Chapters

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2024. 'Facilitating individual agency in British contemporary dance technique training: a praxical pedagogical approach'. In Colin, N., Seago, C., Stamp, K. (eds.) Ethical Agility in Dance: rethinking technique in British contemporary dance, pp. 81-96, Routledge, London.

Journal Articles

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2024. 'Constructing codes of behaviour: the 'doxic agreement' as a force for agency in contemporary dance technique training', Theatre, Dance and Performance Training.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2023. 'Destabilizing the habitus in contemporary dance technique training: The 'reflexive-dialogical' as a mode of 'practising'', Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, 15 (1), pp. 119-131.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2018. 'Self-somatic authority: Exploring the cultivation of somatic intelligence through a dialogic approach to self-reflection in dance technique learning', Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 10 (1), pp. 95-110.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2017. 'Negotiating the rules of engagement: exploring perceptions of dance technique learning through Bourdieu's concept of 'doxa'', Research in Dance Education, 18 (3), pp. 221-236.

Rimmer, R.S., 2017. 'Questions as 'springboards': a dialogic approach to fostering critical enquiry and reflection in dance technique learning.', Learning and Teaching in Action, 12 (1), 17.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2015. 'Reimagining Reflective Practice in the Dance Technique Class', Innovative Practice in Higher Education, 2 (2).

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2013. 'Improvising with Material in the Higher Education Dance Technique Class: Exploration and Ownership', Journal of Dance Education.

Conference Papers

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., Kendall, L., 2024. 'Agency And Awakening: Creative Connections Attributed To Reckless Sleepers' A String Section.', Subject/Object/Practice/Place: Connecting Creatively Through the Performing Arts, University of Malta, Valetta, 20/3/2024 - 22/3/2024.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., Kendall, L., 2023. 'Agency and Awakening: Opportunities within a Score.', Performing Scores/Scoring Performance, Manchester Metropolitan University: Performance Research Group, 11/7/2023 - 12/7/2023.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2021. 'Doxic agreements and agency in contemporary dance technique education: a reflexive-dialogical approach', Theatre and Performance Research Association Annual Conference, Liverpool Hope University, 6/9/2021 - 9/9/2021.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2016. ''Iterative inquiry: exploring reflective learning in dance technique across three cycles of action research.'', Dance HE 'Sustaining the Discipline: Embedding the Right to Dance in the C21st', Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds UK, 28/10/2016 - 29/10/2016.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2016. ''Stimulating 'unique intellectual adventures' in dance technique learning: questions as springboards for reflective enquiry'.', Dance HE 'Questioning methods of practice, pedagogy and research'., University of Bedfordshire, UK., 7/4/2016 - 7/4/2016.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., Guarino, J., 2016. 'Reflective Practice and Dance Scholarship', Expanded Practice and Curation as Creative Process Symposium, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2/2016.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2015. 'Making Material Meaningful: Nurturing the Thinking Dancer in the Higher Education Dance Technique Class', Department of Contemporary Arts Research Symposium, Manchester Metropolitan University, 3/2015.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2014. 'Evaluating the Impact of Alternative Learning Strategies in the Higher Education Dance Technique Class', MMU Annual Postgraduate Research Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University Graduate School, 11/2014.

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2014. 'Introducing Choice in the Higher Education Dance Technique Class', Higher Education Academy Arts and Humanities 'Heroes and Monsters' Conference, The Lowry: Manchester, 6/2014, in

Theses and Dissertations

Rimmer-Piekarczyk, R., 2022. 'Doxic agreements and the mobilisation of agency: examining students' engagement with cognitive reflection in relation to the dominant pedagogical discourses of western dance technique education'.