Miss Rosalind Holgate Smith

Research project: Touching Otherness and the Vocabulary of Contact Improvisation


Through performance research this project investigates the vocabulary of touch from Contact Improvisation, a dance form based on touch. Drawing on Karen Barad's (2003, 2011, 2012) new materialist philosophy – and her understanding of touch as an entangled process that enables encounters with Otherness – the research explores how specific touch techniques facilitate encounters with Otherness. Exploring beyond the boundary of the skin, the project investigates haptic experiences among dancers and dancers moving in touch with environmental matter, such as water, soil and trees. Arguing, with Manning (2007: xv), that ‘touch […] enables the creation of worlds', Otherness is considered as emergent, a form of co-becoming with other bodies, species and materials. In a 21st century society where we are increasingly out of touch due to social distancing, touch prohbitions and widespread virtual communications, the project poses implications, provoking reflection on how we are communicating and coming together.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Touching Otherness and the Vocabulary of Contact Improvisation
  • Research supervisor: Dr Daniela Perazzo
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Beatrice Jarvis


I am a Dancer, Artist and Choreographer. I create performances, immersive installations and art that investigates intimate experiences between people, place and the environment. I develop my work through practices of touch and training the senses, in which I take influence from Contact Improvisation, Somatic practices such as Body Mind Centering, Authentic Movement and dancing outdoors, on land and in water. 

I completed a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at DeMontfort University, a BA(hons) degree in Fine Art & Choreography at Dartington College of Arts and Falmouth University in 2012 and a Masters Degree in Dance at Trinity Laban and Independent Dance in 2017. Besides dance making and performance I have taught at a number of UK Universities, led intensive workshops, including at international dance festivals and worked with diverse range of group including children, disabled adults and older people.


Areas of research interest

  • Dance
  • Touch
  • Contact Improvisation
  • New Materialism
  • Otherness
  • Posthumanism
  • Somatics
  • Performance
  • Ritual


  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, DeMontfort University
  • BA(hons) Degree in Fine Art Contemporary Practices with Choreography, Falmouth University
  • Masters Degrees in Dance Creative Practice, Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music & Dance & Independent Dance, London

Funding or awards received

  • Techne Doctoral Scholarship
  • International Opportunities Fund, Arts Council Wales
  • Gill Clarke Bursary
  • Research and Development, Art Council Wales
  • Articulture Bursary -Uncertain Terrain
  • British Council Research Fellowship-Germany
  • British Council Research Fellowship-France