Aoife McGrath


  • Room 02.003 - 19 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Dance Studies - Choreographic Practices and Processes - Practice as Research - Affect Studies in performance - The Maternal in performance - Movement practices and performance - Interdisciplinary performance practices - Collaborative performance practices


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr Aoife McGrath, BA(Hons)Trinity College Dublin, PhD Trinity College Dublin, FHEA, Staatlich Geprüfte Tänzerin (Bühnentanz) Heinz Bosl Stiftung, Munich.

Senior Lecturer in Drama

SWAN Co-Champion AEL

Co-President of the Irish Society for Theatre Research

Co-Convenor of the Choreography and Corporeality Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Research.

Research Interests and Projects

My research interests include dance, practice as research, performance and philosophy, collaborative creative processes, and cultural and affect studies. After a professional dance career in Germany and Ireland, I have worked as a choreographer, director, critic, and as Dance Advisor for the Irish Arts Council.

I am a PaR scholar and choreographer who engages in practice-based choreographic research, critical dance scholarship, and dance engagement and advocacy work. I am currently involved in a number of interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects across several different arts disciplines and with researchers in sociology, psychology and the health sciences.

My Dance and the Maternal project encompasses performance projects that communicate experiences of maternal corporealities. Examples include my collaboration with psychologist Dr Jen Hanratty in CESI on a dance performance project that communicates women's experiences of breastfeeding (Let Down), and a project with choreographer and dancer Aisling McCormick exploring women's experience of time in pregnancy (Within). I am also currently working on a Future Screens/AHRC funded project with filmmaker, Dee Harvey, and mathematician, Henry Segerman, exploring the communication of women's experience of post-natal depression in 360 film (Impossible Worlds). 

Another main area of interest is collaborative projects experimenting with mixed-methods research that combines dance and sociology. I am developing the Dance and Borders project in collaboration with sociologists Dr Tori Durrer (UCD) and Dr Pete Campbell (University of Liverpool), which explores the integration of findings from "danced surveys" with more traditional paper surveys to study the effects of the Irish border on dancers livelihoods and practice. 

I am currently working on a H2020 Marie Curie project with post-doctoral fellow, Shonagh Hill, titled "Intergenerational Feminisms", which involves collaboration with a diverse range of female Northern Irish Theatre practitioners, and public engagement activities with the Linen Hall Library and Maiden Voyage Dance Company.

I am also interested in arts policy and advocacy - I was recently commissioned by Dance Ireland, Dance Limerick and Dublin Dance Festival to facilitate a series of Think Tank conversations with a broad range of stakeholders in the dance industry across the island of Ireland. The final report provides a roadmap for the sector and for the development of new dance policy in Ireland:

Aoife McGrath, Dance Think Tanks Report, (Dublin: Dance Ireland, 2021)

Forthcoming Publications:

Aoife McGrath, Prarthana Purkayastha, Marcus Tan and Tereza Havelkova (eds.), 'Sounding Corporeality', special issue, Theatre Research International (CUP), 46.2 (2021).

Aoife McGrath, 'Sounding a Queitening: breastfeeding choreographies and the sonic-corporeal dialogue of maternal corporeal experience', in 'Sounding Corporeality', Theatre Research International, 46.2 (2021)

Aoife McGrath, Victoria Durrer and Peter Campbell, 'Dancing with Epistemic Borders: knowledge and unknowns in mixed-methods PaR collaborations between dance and social science', in Hetty Blades, Scott deLahunta, and Lucia Piquero, Performance Research, 26.2 (2021).

Recent Choreographic Work:

Let Down, a dance theatre piece about women's experiences of breastfeeding incorporating sociological research on breastfeeding in Northern Ireland. Choreographed and performed by Aoife McGrath and Paula O'Reilly, original sound score by Sorca McGrath, dramaturgy by Emily DeDakis, commissioned by Dr Jennifer Hanratty (QUB) for Breastival 2018, and breastfeeding research by Dr Maria Herron (UU). Performances co-produced and funded by Being Human Festival (AHRC/British Academy), Breastival Belfast, and Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (performances August to December 2018).

Within: Body + Time, a dance solo exploring the experience of time in pregnancy (co-choreographed and performed by Aisling McCormick, videography by Richard Lavery, produced by Emily Dedakis), produced as part of the Rapid Response platform by Accidental Theatre Belfast, 2018.

Please, a dance theatre work about the experiences of women struggling with eating disorders (performed by Leonie McDonagh, original composition by Marty Byrne, text by Emily DeDakis, research by Dr Carolyn Blair (QUB)), Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Brian Friel Theatre, Belfast, 2017.

Supervision and Mentoring:

I am interested in supervising research students working in the areas of dance studies, practice as research, dance and the maternal, movement practices and performance, and collaborative creative processes.

Current PhD students:

Aisling McCormick, 'Performing Arts and Maternal Health: an investigation into collaborations between artists and maternity health services' (1st supervisor)

Elien Hanselaer, 'A study of actor-actor performance connection' (1st supervisor)

Argyro Tsampazi, 'The use of Terzopoulos' Method and Greek Rituals in Choreography' (1st supervisor)

Maggie Cronin, 'What are the lived experiences and unique challenges faced by women working within the theatre industry in Northern Ireland? A practice-as-research enquiry', (1st supervisor)

Graduated PhD students:

Dr Paula Guzzanti, 'Embodied Consciousness and Affect in Movement-based Improvisation Practices' (1st supervisor)

Dr Caitriona Reilly, ‘Postfeminism and British and Irish Theatre’ (2nd supervisor)


Selected Awards

Being Human Individual Award (AHRC/BA) (2018)

Faculty Research Initiative Award (2018)

Faculty Research Initiative Award (2017)

Irish Society for Theatre Research New Scholar's Prize (2011)

TaPRA Essay Competition Prizewinner (2010)

Society of Dance History Scholars Travel Award (2009)

IRCHSS (Government of Ireland) Research Scholarship (2008, 2009)

Trinity College Dublin Gold Medal (2007)

Trinity College Dublin Scholar (2005-2010)

DAAD Research Scholarship (Freie Universtaet Berlin) (2004-2005)


DRA3060 Dance Theatre

DRA3025 Dissertation

DRA2005 Introduction to Devising

DRA1003 Introduction to Performing

DRA1004 Introduction to Contemporary Performing Practices

DRA3006 Advanced Theatre Practice (mentor for directors)


Expertise related to UN SDGs

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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