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 and politics, 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.

My main area of research is dance, and I am a PaR scholar and choreographer who engages in practice-based choreographic research alongside more "traditional" scholarly research such as book projects. 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 my work on collaborative projects exploring 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 also 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.

Another area of interest is arts policy and advocacy - I am currently working on the facilitation and documentation of the pandemic Dance Think Tanks for industry partners in the dance sector, and am preparing a final report which will inform the development of new dance policy in Ireland.

I am the Co-President of the Irish Society for Theatre Research and the co-convenor of the Choreography and Corporeality working group of the International Federation for Theatre Research.


My monograph, Dance Theatre in Ireland: Revolutionary Moves (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2013) provides the first critical and contextual study of contemporary and historical dance theatre practice in Ireland. 

Recent publications:

- a co-edited book (with Dr Emma Meehan, CDaRE, Coventry), Dance Matters in Ireland: contemporary dance performance and practice (Palgrave, 2018)

- commissioned book chapters on dance and affect ('Dancing the Downward Slide', in DeFrantz and Rothfield, Choreography and Corporeality: Relay in Motion, Palgrave, 2016), dance and politics ('Choreographies of Irish Modernity’in Paige Reynolds (ed.), Modernist Afterlives in Irish Literature and Culture (Anthem Press, 2016), and the politics of creativity in traditional dance ('Do you want to see my hornpipe' in Sellers-Young and Shay The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity, Oxford University Press, 2016). 

- journal articles on the Dance and Borders project: McGrath, A., McGrady, O. & Mooney, J., 20 Dec 2019In : Animated: current issues and practice in participatory dance. 192p. 22-25

- online essays and publications related to industry collaborations:

'Examining the work, career and influences of Oona Doherty'

Dance Think Tank summary reports:

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.

I am currently working on a monograph on Dance, Affect and the Maternal. 

I am interested in supervising research students working in the areas of dance studies, practice as research, 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)



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