The effects of the application of Orthodox ascetic practices to choreographic processes and dance performance

  • Argyro Tsampazi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This PhD research project constitutes an exploration of the application of Orthodox ascetic practices to choreographic processes and dance performance. In this thesis, I investigate the experiences of four groups of dancers who participated in a dance trial workshop and three dance residencies as part of my PhD research during spring and summer 2017 in Greece, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. During the trial workshop and three residencies, the participants worked on exercises I devised based on Orthodox ascetic practices, while simultaneously working on the production of a dance piece.

An ethnographic and autoethnographic approach was taken for this practice-based research and the data produced through group and individual interviews, reflective writing, and drawings in reflective journals, photos, and pictures. For the analysis of the interviews, the methodology of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was utilized. This thesis discusses the dancers’ experience from two exercises based on the Orthodox ascetic practices of silence and detachment from material objects. The themes generated from the above exercises include different aspects of communication, the topics of focus and controlling the thoughts, the sharpening of the senses, overconsumption, lifestyle Minimalism, and human vanity and greed, among others. The findings of this research are presented through this thesis and an online portfolio which can be found here:

Thesis embargoed until 31st July 2024
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy & Larmor Studentship
SupervisorAoife McGrath (Supervisor) & Mark Phelan (Supervisor)


  • dance practice
  • choreography
  • dance and spirituality
  • Orthodox Christian Mysticism and dance
  • Orthodox ascetic practices and dance
  • Christianity and arts
  • performance and religion
  • silence in dance
  • performance and spirituality
  • detachment from objects and dance

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