Professor Sita Popat
Chair in Performance and Technology, Deputy Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute
0113 343 8716
Clothworkers South Building, Room 2.02
As Professor of Performance and Technology, Sita’s research is concerned with embodied experiences of new media and digital technologies. She has recently completed two projects: the Error Network (AHRC-funded) and Identity and Governance of Bodily Extensions: The Case of Prosthetics and Avatars (Wellcome Trust-funded). She is co-editor of Digital Movement: Essays in Motion Technology and Performance with Nicolas Salazar Sutil (Palgrave 2015) and Advisory Editor of the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media (Taylor & Francis).
Sita trained as a dancer before studying for her PhD in dance-making on the Internet in the late 1990s (when it took over 10 minutes to load a 2MB movie). Since then she has lectured at the University of Leeds, becoming Chair in Performance and Technology in 2011. Her interests in embodied experience and new media technologies have led to collaborations with digital artists, computer scientists, robotics engineers, and more recently rehabilitative medicine specialists. She has recently completed an investigation into digital avatars and medical prosthetics as forms of bodily extension, and an interdisciplinary academic network on the productivity of error. She is also writing about experiences of embodiment and touch in virtual reality. Previous projects include collaboration on the design of robotic motion and interaction using dance movement analysis. Her research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the Wellcome Trust. She is a member of the AHRC’s Advisory Board. Sita plays massively multiplayer online games (World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2) and Dungeons and Dragons in her spare time.
Performance and new technologies
Digital bodies and avatars
The productivity of error
Embodied experiences and social identities of avatar users and prosthetics users
Independent Research Project (Final year undergraduate)
Deputy Director of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute
(2011) Performance Perspectives: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan.
(2006) Invisible connections: dance, choreography and internet communities. Routledge.
(2018) “Body Extension and the Law: Medical Devices, Intellectual Property, Prosthetics and Marginalisation (Again)”, Law, Innovation and Technology. 10.2 (Accepted)
(2017) “Bodily extensions and performance”, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. 13.2: 101-104.
DOI: 10.1080/14794713.2017.1358525, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/120535/
(2012) “Keeping it Real: Encountering Mixed Reality in igloo’s SwanQuake: House”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 18.1: 11-26.
DOI: 10.1177/1354856511419913, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76890/
(2010) “Embodied conversations: performance and the design of a robotic dancing partner”, Design Studies. 31.2: 99-117.
DOI: 10.1016/j.destud.2009.09.001, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79780/
(2009) “Dancing on the Grid: Using e-Science tools to extend choreographic research”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 367.1898: 2793-2806.
DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2009.0048, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76893/
(2007) “Dancing in the Streets: The sensuous manifold as a concept for designing experience”, International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media. 2.3: 297-314.
DOI: 10.1386/padm.2.3.297_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76894/
(2007) “Emergent Objects: Designing through Performance”, International Journal of Performance Arts & Digital Media. 3.2+3: 269-279.
(2006) “Ways of thinking, ways of doing: Review of the second international conference for digital technologies and performance arts”, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. 2.2: 209-214.
(2005) “Creating common ground: dialogues between performance and digital technologies”, International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media. 1.1: 47-65.
DOI: 10.1386/padm.1.1.47/1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76895/
(2004) “The Eurodans Project: A European Collaboration through Choreography and Technology”, European Journal of Higher Arts Education.
(2003) “The online devising process: creating theatre through Internet collaboration”, Studies in Theatre and Performance. 23.2: 87-105.
(2002) “The TRIAD Project: using Internet communications to challenge students' understandings of choreography”, Research in Dance Education. 3.1: 21-34.
(2002) “Dance-Making on the Internet: Can On-Line Choreographic Projects Foster Creativity in the User-Participant?”, Leonardo. 35.1: 31-36.
DOI: 10.1162/002409402753689281, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/1435/
(2001) “Interactive dance-making: online creative collaborations”, Digital Creativity. 12.4: 205-214.
(2018) “Invisible Difference: Foreword”, In: Whatley S; Waelde C; Harmon S; Brown A; Wood K; Blades H (eds.) Dance, Disability and Law: Invisible Difference. Intellect (UK).
(2017) “Virtually touching: Embodied engagement in telematic and virtual reality performance”, In: Contemporary Choreography: A Critical Reader. 489-491
DOI: 10.4324/9781315563596, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/125649/
(2017) “Gesture and Movement: Indices of Presence”, In: Banks J (eds.) Avatar, Assembled: The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies. Digital Formations. New York, USA: Peter Lang.
DOI: 10.3726/978-1-4331-3829-4, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/113961/
(2016) “Transcending dimensions: physical and virtual dancing bodies”, In: Rosenberg D (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies. Oxford University Press. 657-676
DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199981601.013.31, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/81423/
(2015) “Placing the body in mixed reality”, In: Hunter V (eds.) Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performance. Routledge. 162-177
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/81422/
(2015) Introduction. 1-20
(2012) “Pluralistic Presence: Practising embodiment with my avatar”, In: Broadhurst S; Machon J (eds.) Identity, Performance and Technology: Practices of Empowerment, Embodiment and Technicity. Performance and Technology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 160-174
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76891/
(2011) “Technology”, In: Pitches J; Popat S (eds.) Performance Perspectives: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan. 114-145
(2009) “Dancing in the Streets”, In: Collins J; Nisbet A (eds.) Design for Performance. Routledge.
(2009) “Dancing with sprites and robots: new approaches to collaboration between dance and digital technologies”, In: Butterworth J; Wildschut L (eds.) Contemporary Choreography: A Critical Reader. Routledge. 416-430
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80619/
(2009) “Emergent Objects: Performance and interdisciplinary design at the human / technological Interface”, In: Inns T (eds.) Designing for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Methods & Findings. Farnham, UK: Gower Ashgate. 116-131
(2002) “Interactive Dance-Making: Online Creative Collaborations”, In: Beardon C; Malmborg L (eds.) Digital Creativity: A Reader. Swets & Zeitlinger.
(2013) The Embodied Interface: Experiencing the digital in performance. Proceedings: Digital Representations of Performance Digital Representations of Performance. (Accepted)
(2013) Cartesian Bodies and Euclidean Spaces. Becoming Nomad: Hybrid Spaces, Liquid Architectures and Online Domains
(2011) Against Ghosts: Mixed Reality and Embodied Presence. Performance Studies international (PSi) #17 - Camillo 2.0 Technology, Memory, Performance
(2011) Digital Bodies and Dancing Partners. Turing Edinburgh International Technology Festival
(2010) Embodied conversations: performance and the design of a robotic dancing partner. Proceedings: DESIGN STUD 31.2: 99-117.
DOI: 10.1016/j.destud.2009.09.001, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74695/
(2010) A Stage Beyond: Cultural Impact, Performance and Knowledge Exchange beyond the University Campus. On the University - [The Third] World Universities Forum
(2010) Extending and Disappearing Bodies: Performance in a Mixed Reality Paradigm. Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts Sensual technologies: Collaborative Practices of Interdisciplinarity
(2009) Projecting Presence in mixed-reality performance. Performing Presence
(2009) Play and embodiment in interactive urban installation art. International Conference on Arts and Society
(2009) Dancing on the Grid: Using eScience tools to extend choreographic research. UK eScience All Hands Meeting 2008 "Crossing Boundaries" Proceedings: Theme Issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Crossing Boundaries: Computational Science, E-Science and Global E-Infrastructure
(2009) e-Dance: Digital topographies and knowledge cartography in networked performance. 15th International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA)
(2008) e-Dance: Relocating Choreographic Practice a New Modality for Performance and Documentation. International Symposium on Electronic Art Proceedings: Yes
(2008) e-Dance: Relocating Choreographic Process. New Paradigms in Performance International Symposium
(2008) Building artificial personalities: expressive communication channels based on an interlingua for a human-robot dance. International Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE XI) Proceedings: Artificial Life XI Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.: 80-87.
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74696/
(2008) Building artificial personalities: expressive communication channels based on an interlingua for a human-robot dance. International Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE XI) Proceedings: Artificial Life XI MIT Press.: 80-87.
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/4336/
(2007) SpiderCrab and the Emergent Object: Designing for the Twenty-first Century. dux08
(2007) Dancing in the Streets. Proceedings: DUX07 3rd International Conference on Designing for User Experience, Chicago November 5th-7th 2007 DUX07 3rd International Conference on Designing for User Experience, Chicago November 5th-7th 2007.
(2007) A Full Innocence: The Paradox of Stillness in Movement. Proceedings: Computers in Art and Design Education (CADE) 2007 Computers in Art and Design Education (CADE) 2007.: 171-178.
(2007) Revealing the Wizard of Oz: Interrelationships between performer-dancer, performer-operator and digital sprite. Proceedings: International Symposium: Re-thinking Theory and Practice: International Symposium: Re-thinking Theory and Practice:.
(2007) Projecting Performance @ Universal Voices. Proceedings: Universal Voices International Symposium Universal Voices International Symposium.
(2007) e-Dancing: The Impact of VREs on Defining New Research Methodologies for Embodied Practice-led research in Choreography and Performance. UK e-Science All-Hands Meeting Conference
(2007) Projecting Performance: Embodied technologies for operator and performer. PSi #13 Proceedings: Performance Studies international #13 Performance Studies international #13.
(2007) Relocating Choreographic Practice: The impact of collaborative memory and Grid technologies on Practice-led Research in Dance - A preliminary report. Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts
(2006) Dancing in the Streets: Interactive play and digital performance. Proceedings: (re)Actor: 1st International Conference on Digital Live Art, Queen Mary's University, London 11/9/06 (re)Actor: 1st International Conference on Digital Live Art, Queen Mary's University, London 11/9/06.
(2006) Projecting Performance HCI. Proceedings: Engage HCI: The 1st International Symposium on Culture, Creativity and Interaction Design Engage HCI: The 1st International Symposium on Culture, Creativity and Interaction Design.
(2006) Dancing Sprites and Digitised Spaces: A collaborative project in digital performance. Proceedings: 2nd International Conference for Digital Technologies & Performance Arts, University Centre, Doncaster, UK 26-28th June 2006 2nd International Conference for Digital Technologies & Performance Arts, University Centre, Doncaster, UK 26-28th June 2006.
(2005) Collaborative Research Between Performers and Technologists. Proceedings: TaPRA Inaugural Conference, University of Manchester, September 8-10 2005 TaPRA Inaugural Conference, University of Manchester, September 8-10 2005.
(2004) Robotics and Performance: A Phenomenological Dialogue. Proceedings: Pixelraiders 2 Conference Sheffield Hallam University.
(2003) Digital Facilitation, Traditional Choreography?. Proceedings: Conference for Research in Dance and Drama (conference for the Standing Conference on Dance in Higher Education) Conference for Research in Dance and Drama (conference for the Standing Conference on Dance in Higher Education).
(2002) Eurodans with Snugfit: Web-based community software for online choreography. Proceedings: International Conference on Information and Communication Technology in Education International Conference on Information and Communication Technology in Education.: 610-614.
(2001) Hands-on Dance Project: Creative Dance Collaborations Online. Proceedings: Computers in Art and Design Education Glasgow School of Art Press.: 306-310.
(2000) Interactive Awakening: Heightening Consciousness of the Artwork for Artist and Audience. Proceedings: Consciousness Reframed – Art, Technology and Consciousness, 3rd CAiiA-STAR International Research Conference Consciousness Reframed – Art, Technology and Consciousness, 3rd CAiiA-STAR International Research Conference.
(2000) Interactive Composition: Sharing the Creative Process on the Internet. Proceedings: International Computer Music Conference International Computer Music Conference.
(2000) Online Choreography: The Hands-On Dance Project. Proceedings: Shifts '00: Shifts in Choreography Shifts '00: Shifts in Choreography.
Music Via Motion Demonstration. 01/05/2000
No Fixed Plans. 01/07/2000
Dancing in the Streets (Installation). DVD 11/03/2005
TouchDown. Internet 01/02/2000
The TRIAD Project. 01/12/2001
The Coat of Invisible Notes. 01/09/2000
Pax Excelsis. Internet 01/04/2001
AHRC Grant - Projecting Performance: dialogues between performer-dancer and performer-operator.
(2015) Digital Movement: Essays in Motion Technology and Performance. Palgrave Macmillan.
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/102219/
Research Projects & Grants
2016-7 Identity and Governance of Bodily Extensions: The Case of Prosthetics and Avatars (Wellcome Trust-funded) with Professor Rory O’Connor (University of Leeds), Professor Sarah Whatley (Coventry University), Dr Shawn Harmon (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Abbe Brown (University of Aberdeen).
2015-7 The Error Network (AHRC-funded) with Professor Sarah Whatley (Coventry University), Ruth Gibson (Coventry University, Gibson/Martelli) and Professor Susan Kozel (Malmö University, Sweden).
2013-5 RESPOND: Digital Research & Development in the Arts (NESTA/AHRC/ACE-funded) with Dr Ben Walmsley (University of Leeds), Yorkshire Dance and Breakfast Creatives.
2007-9 Relocating Choreographic Process: The impact of Grid technologies and collaborative memory on the documentation of practice-led research in dance (AHRC/EPSRC/JISC-funded) with Ms Helen Bailey (University of Bedfordshire), Dr Simon Buckingham Shum (Open University), Mr Michael Daw (University of Manchester).
2006-8 Projecting Performance: Interrelationships between performance and technology, dancer and operator (AHRC-funded) with Mr Scott Palmer and KMA Creative Technologies Ltd.
2007-8 Emergent Objects: Designing the Technological Interface through Performance (AHRC/EPSRC-funded) with Professor Mick Wallis, and co-investigators from University of Leeds, Nottingham Trent University, University of Huddersfield, and Shadow Robot Company (London).
2005-6 Emergent Objects: Performance and Design Research (EPSRC/AHRC Designing for the 21st Century) with Professor Calvin Taylor, Professor Mick Wallis and Dr Joslin McKinney.
Advisory Board member, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Advisory Editor and co-founder, International Journal of Performance Arts & Digital Media (Taylor & Francis)
Standing Committee member, Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts (DRHA)
Editorial Board, Journal of Choreographic Practices (Intellect)
Advisory Board, Palgrave Macmillan’s Performance and Technology Series
PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision
Sita is available to supervise PhD and Postdoctoral research in the following areas and related topics:
– Digital performance
– Dance and technology
– Avatars and prosthetics
Please email her to enquire further.
- Dr Laura Griffiths – Phoenix Dance Theatre: Re-constructing the Past, Re-informing the Present (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with Phoenix Dance Theatre, graduated 2015)
- Dr Louise McDowall – Dance improvisation and habit (graduated 2014)
- Dr Parmis Mozafari – The Condition of Women Musicians in Iran (graduated 2011)
- Dr Victoria Hunter – Site-Specific Dance Performance: Relationship Between Site and Creative Process (graduated 2009)
- Dr Dan Bye – Clowning and Brechtian Theatre (graduated 2008)
- Dr Stuart Pickford – Dialogue between the Discourses of Ecocriticism and Poetry (graduated 2008)
- Dr Clare Johnson – The Role of Lucid Dreaming in the Process of Creative Writing (graduated 2007)
- Dr Oliver Mallett – Re-Writing The City: The Value Of Psychoanalytic Perspectives To The Creative Writer (graduated 2007)
Examined 16 PhD candidatures at University of Leeds, Middlesex University, University of Exeter, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Chichester, De Montfort University, Simon Fraser University (Canada) and Queensland University of Technology (Australia).