Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Dr Maria Kapsali

Lecturer in Physical Performance

0113 (34) 35147

PCI Building, Room 1.09

Lecturer in Physical Performance, Office Hours Monday 10-11:00.

I am currently working on a contracted monograph on technology and performer training (Routledge. 2018), exploring both practices of performer training through histories and philosophies of technology as well as more recent applications of digital technologies as performer training tools. The book will be part of the Routledge series Perspectives on Performer Training, I co-edit with Dr Rebecca Loukes (University of Exeter).

I am about to complete a year-long fellowship awarded by the Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence on Mobile Phones and Digital Creativity. 

I have recently published in the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media an article on Sonolope, a mobile phone application on movement sonification:





I studied Theatre and Performance in Greece and continued my studies in the UK with an MA in Physical Theatre at  Royal Holloway, University of London. During and after the completion of my MA I trained in a number of psychophysical disciplines, such as Body Mind Centering with Linda Hartley, Feldenkrais with Richard Cave, and Iyengar Yoga with Silvia Prescott. In 2002 I completed a two year course in contemporary dance and in 2007 I qualified as an Iyengar Yoga teacher.

As I was interested to explore the relationship between my physical training and performance further, in 2007 I embarked on a fully funded PhD in Performance Practice at the University of Exeter. My PhD thesis both examined the use of yoga by key theatre practitioners and practically experimented with ways in which yoga can be used towards pre-performative as well as performative purposes.

Shortly after the completion of my PhD, I joined the University of Leeds in January 2013 as a Lecturer in Physical Performance.  Alongside my teaching in under- and postgraduate modules, I published a co-authored DVD-Booklet on Yoga and Actor Training (Routledge 2015) and guest edited a special issue of Theatre Dance and Performance Training entitled Training, Politics and Ideology (July 2014). Links to the issue can be found in the links section.

I have an ongoing collaboration with technologists Simon East and Christine Farion on the development of a mobile phone application for Movement Sonification.

I am also involved with dancer and yoga teacher in ‘Two Trainers Prepare’ an ongoing project exploring yoga as a basis for the development of an interdisciplinary creative praxis.

I am a co-convenor of the TaPRA Performer Training WG and a co-editor editor of the Routledge Series ‘Perspectives on Performer Training’.



Research Interests

  • philosophy of technology and the intersections between somatic practices and digital technologies.
  • 20th and 21st c performer training regimes, processes and practitioners, in particular the use of psychophysical disciplines.
  • mobile media.
  • Yoga and somatics.
  • The historical, ideological and economic contexts of psychophysical practices, such as discourses of health, fitness and self-development.
  • Knowledge production in practice-based research and the use of digital technologies as a means of documentation and dissemination.


PECI 2101 Strategies for Research

PECI 3501 Processes of Performance

PECI 1703 Performance Project 1

PECI 2102 Collaborative Performance Project

PECI 1704 Exploring Performance

PECI 3700 Independent Research Project


Postgraduate Research Tutor



  • Hulton D, Kapsali M (2015) Yoga and Actor Training. Routledge.

Journal articles

  • Kapsali M (2017) “Making the body all ears: Sonolope and a somatic practice of really listening”, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. 13.1: 39-54.
    DOI: 10.1080/14794713.2017.1300446, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/114242/

  • Hulton D, Kapsali M (2017) “Yoga and Stanislavski: reflections on the past and applications for the present and future”, STANISLAVSKI STUDIES. 5.1: 37-47.
    DOI: 10.1080/20567790.2017.1294382, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/111245/

  • Duke B, Sperling M, Kapsali M (2016) “'What are your/the tools of training?'”, THEATRE DANCE AND PERFORMANCE TRAINING. 7.1: 108-111.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2016.1149365

  • Kapsali M (2014) “Training in a cold climate: Edited transcript of roundtable discussion with Catherine Alexander, Alison Andrews, Tom Cornford, Matt Hargrave, Struan Leslie, Kylie Walsh”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 5.2: 219-232.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2014.932960

  • Kapsali M (2014) “Psychophysical disciplines and the development of reflexivity”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 5.2: 157-168.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2014.914968

  • Kapsali M (2014) “Editorial”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 5.2: 103-106.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2014.926660

  • Kapsali M (2013) “The ‘Ancient’ Body of Modern Yoga: The influence of Ramanuja on Iyengar Yoga and the use of Iyengar Yoga in Actor Training”, Studies in South Asian Film and Media. 4.2

  • Kapsali M (2013) “Rethinking Actor Training: Training Body, Mind and…Ideological Awareness.”, Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal Pitches J (eds.). 1. 4.1

  • Kapsali M (2012) “Towards a body-mind spirituality: the practice of yoga and the case of Air.”, Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices Williamson A (eds.). 1. 4.1: 109-124.

  • Kapsali M (2010) “‘“I don't attack it but it’s not for actors”: the use of yoga by Jerzy Grotowski’.”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal Pitches J; Murray S (eds.). 1. Vol 1.2: 185-198.


  • Brazzale, Chow, Taylor CT, Evans, Burt, Rajendran, Fuller, McFadden, Syron, Kapsali MK (2014) “Training, Politics and Ideology, Special Issue of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal”, Theatre Dance and Performance Training Kapsali M (eds.). 5.2

Research Projects & Grants

In 2017-18 I undertook a year long LITE fellowship with colleague Dr Scott Palmer exploring mobile phones and digital creativity. The project can be viewed here.

I am also involved in an ongoing collaboration with technologist, Simon East and Christine Farion, on the development of Sonolope, a mobile applications for movement sonification.

Sonolope has been used in a range of projects, including the site specific performance House by A Quiet Word (2017).

Research Centres & Groups

Member of the Performance Training Preparation and Pedagogy Research Group


External Appointments

External Examiner for the MA in Acting and MA in Directing at the University of East London.

Co-convenor of TaPRA Performer Training Working Group

Co-Editor of the Theatre Dance and Performance Training Blog.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Kate Fox, University of Leeds, ‘Stand Up and Be Encountered’, the practice of stand up comedy and poetry and its relationships to geographical, class and gender identity, completed

Carole Kirk, University of Leeds, painting as a means of co-creating meaning, completed.

PhD Thesis

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the practice of yoga in Western actor training and theatre practice. The starting point of this PhD research is my observation that yoga is a popular discipline that has often attracted the interest of actors, directors, and actor trainers. The aim of this thesis is to explore through practical research additional possibilities for the use/application of the discipline in training and performance. More specifically, this thesis asks the following questions:


  • How yoga has been used by key theatre practitioners, such as Stanislavsky, Grotowski, Richard Schechner, and Dorinda Hulton, in their work with actors and how yoga has influenced their artistic vision?
  • How can I use the practice of yoga in order to facilitate the actor’s training and rehearsal process in relation to specific dramaturgical and performative demands?
  • How do the social assumptions and historical contingencies that underlie the way yoga is practiced in the West today affect the actor’s training, his/her relationship to one’s body, and the way s/he embodies a role?


The practical investigation employed the use of Iyengar Yoga in a series of three projects, which focused on performative and pre-performative aspects of the actor’s craft. The practice of yoga postures was thus explored in relation to the actor’s movement, imagination and performative relationship to other actors. It has also been used in order to facilitate the actor in working with different theatrical scripts and dramaturgies as well as generate original material for performance. In this manner, this thesis has developed a set of exercises and frameworks, which combine the practice of the discipline with its application in training and rehearsal contexts.

Professional Practice

in Spring 2018, I was involved in the creation of Feel/Hear/See/Do: A Digital Odyssey, an interactive peripatetic performance, offered during the Leeds Digital Festival.

I am currently working on Sonic Bodies, a project that employs movement sonification as a form of multisensory exploration of sculpture. The project will be presented in November 2018, in Leeds Art Gallery as part of the Being Human Festival.


In 2014 I guest edited a special issue of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal, entitled ‘Training, Politics and Ideology’.

Articles in the Special Issue can be accessed online for free by clicking on the following tab:

Editorial: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19443927.2014.926660.

Main Article: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/aiJen4tfwA466CstQFCv/full

Training in a Cold Climate: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19443927.2014.932960.

More information on my work with mobile phones can be found here: https://signalspace.leeds.ac.uk/ and  http://www.sonolope.com/

PdF files of my other publications are available on academia edu: https://leeds.academia.edu/MariaKapsali

My PhD thesis is available on the British Library website: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=2&uin=uk.bl.ethos.535885

This is the link to my project with dancer and yoga teacher Marie Hallager Andersen ‘Two Trainers Prepare‘ and the Theatre Dance and Performance Training Blog.

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