Dr Elena Catalano


I am a dance scholar interested in the historical and anthropological study of movement and performance practices. In particular, I look at the transnational circulation of dancers and dances and research how this impacts identity and belief. I am interested in investigating the interplay between socio-political conditions and subjective embodiment and experience. I mainly focus on South Asian dance, but have done research also on African and European traditional dances. I have extensive experience in ethnographic methods. I have joined Kingston University Dance Department in 2014 and I teach dance anthropology, ethnography, post-colonial theories, research methods, as well as Indian classical dance (odissi) technique and yoga across all levels. I am currently interested in spirituality and wellbeing in dance.

Academic responsibilities

Senior Lecturer in Dance


  • PhD Ethnochoreology/Ethnomusicology, Durham University (2010-2014) (fully funded by Durham University)
  • MA Dance Cultures, Histories and Practices, University of Surrey (2009-2010) (partially funded by Surrey University)
  • MA in Cultural Management, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (2008-2009)-(fully funded by Bollenti Spiriti Puglia)
  • MA in Anthropological Theories and Methods, Universita' La Sapienza (2005-2007)
  • BA in Anthropological Theories and Methods, Universita' La Sapienza (2001-2004)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Teaching and learning

I currently teach on the following Modules:

- Dance Techniques and Cultures 1 (L4)

- Dance Industry 1 (L4) and 3 (L6)

- Creating Dance 1 (L4) and 2 (L5)

- Dance and the Global Now (L5)

In the previous years, I have taught also Popular Dance, Research Project, Odissi Technique, Dancing and Performing Cultures. 

My teaching interests include: cultural studies of dance, postcolonial studies, South Asian dance histories and cultures, dances of the black diaspora, decolonising dance histories and practices, transnational dance practices, dance and activism, environmental and outdoor performance, somatics, embodiment and phenomenology.

Pedagogically, I am interested in supporting peer-learning.

Undergraduate courses taught


I presently research issues of belief in dance, in particular articulation of spirituality and prayer in western dance context. I am also interested in transnational practices and artistic mobility and these impact on individual and collective identities. 

I am interested in supervising research on South Asian dance, dance tourism and artists' mobility, transnational dance practices, dance and activism, environmental dance, embodied knowing, peer-led pedagogies and creative practices, spirituality and belief, identity and power struggles. I can provide support with research using ethnographic and embodied methods and generally rooted in anthropological, cultural and post-colonial studies. I can also support research with an element of practice if related to the above theoretical framework.


Shaping Experience in Dance: Transcultural Perspectives on Body, Mind and Self in the Practice of Odissi', Journal of Dance and Somatic Practice 2014 June, Volume 6, Issue 1.

Sankofa: Politiche e Pratiche della Danza in Ghana, EdizioniAltravista Pavia, July 2010.


Choreographing Resistance, Resisting Definitions: Ananya's contemporary Odissi and her pledge to social change, Pulse South Asian Dance and Music Magazine, Autumn 2016.

Developing a New Pedagogy for Odissi: the British Scenario, Global Rasika, February 2016.

Democratising Rasa (or the pleasure of the lay rasika), Global Rasika, July 2014.


Number of items: 4.


Sharma, Sonya, Catalano, Elena, Seetzen, Heidi, Minors, Helen and Collins-Mayo, Sylvia (2019) Taking Race Live : exploring experiences of race through interdisciplinary collaboration in Higher Education. London Review of Education, 17(2), pp. 193-205. ISSN (print) 1474-8460

Catalano, Elena (2014) Shaping experience in dance : perspectives on body–mind relationships in Odissi. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, 6(1), pp. 9-28. ISSN (print) 1757-1871

Conference or Workshop Item

Catalano, Elena (2016) 'Please don't mention me as a foreigner' : politics of authenticity, assimilation and appropriation in Odissi dance. In: Beyond authenticity and appropriation : bodies, authorship and choreographies of transmission - CORD + SDHS 2016; 03 - 06 Nov 2016, Claremont, U.S.. (Unpublished)

Catalano, Elena (2015) 'White skins, brown masks' : the unattainable embodiment of Indianness. In: Cut & paste : dance advocacy in the age of austerity; 04 - 07 Jun 2015, Tavros, Greece. (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Tue Apr 16 07:00:19 2024 BST.