Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Professor Alice O’Grady

Head of School, Professor in Applied Performance

0113 343 8715

stage@Leeds G.04


Alice is a Professor in Applied Performance and is Head of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries. Within the broad field of Applied Performance her expertise lies in using performance as a means of promoting social agency and engagement. Her research interests are concerned with open forms of participation, play and performance especially within the contexts of popular music festivals and underground club culture.


Having worked in secondary schools and Further Education colleges as a Drama and Theatre Studies teacher for over ten years, Alice took up post at the University of Leeds in 2003. She is Professor in Applied Performance within the School of Performance and Cultural Industries and is a member of the Place and Performance Research Group.

She works largely within the field of Applied Performance and Intervention. She has taught extensively on the BA Theatre and Performance degree and also contributes to the programme MA  Applied Theatre and Intervention. Alice also supervises PhD students. Her teaching sees students engaged in various practical projects across the region working in collaboration with a diverse range of external groups and agencies. All projects use performance and participation for social agency and engagement and include work with primary and secondary schools as well as community groups, OAPs, asylum seekers, young offenders and adult prisoners.

She is involved in educational research, training and consultancy and works in close collaboration with HMP New Hall and Priory and Springfield PRUs (Pupil Referral Units). Alice is a University Teaching Fellow and has developed peer-to-peer cascaded learning strategies and is active in developing community and industry partnerships to feed into student projects and placements.

Alice is Creative Director of the performance company …floorSpace…. who make interactive walkabout performances for contemporary music festivals and underground club spaces. She mentors TaleGate Theatre Company (www.talegatetheatre.co.uk) as part of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries’ incubation scheme. She has worked in conjunction with Urban Angels Circus (www.urbanangelscircus.co.uk) to develop ‘The Heavenly Court of Madame Fantaisiste’ as part of the Beyond Text Small Grant award. She is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Urban Angels.

Research Interests

Participatory performance and risky aesthetics

Critical pedagogies


Applied performance and social engagement

Sub-culture and the performance of identity

Festival performance and festival culture

Underground club culture and performance

Play theory

Compositional strategies for context-specific performance

Relational performance

Aesthetics of Psychedelic trance and participatory culture


Alice teaches predominantly within the Applied Performance strand of the BA Theatre and Performance programme and on the MA Applied Theatre and Intervention programme. Teaching specialisms include Interventionist and Applied Theatre, Community and Educational Drama, Theatre for Social Change, Prison Theatre, Festival Performance and Interactivity.



Head of School



Journal articles

  • O'Grady KA (2015) “Dancing Outdoors: DiY Ethics and Democratised Practices of Well-being on the UK Alternative Festival Circuit”, Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. 7.1: 76-96.
    DOI: 10.12801/1947-5403.2015.07.01.04, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87023/

    Focussing on the UK’s vibrant alternative festival scene, this article examines how traces of the free party movement in the late 1980s continue to pervade the ethos and aesthetic register of contemporary events. It considers the potent DIY ethic of the campsite that emerged as result of the convergence of Travellers with sound systems such as Spiral Tribe, Exodus and Bedlam. It examines how the aesthetics and ethics of these rural, grassroots gatherings hark back to a particular moment in British history and how the sights, sounds and cultures of the current festival circuit are intimately connected to the histories from which they grew. The article argues for a reading of outdoor space, as experienced within the frame of the alternative festival, as a locale for the performance of political and personal freedoms. It asks how the cultural legacy of opposition through dancing outdoors serves as an expression of democratic culture and as spatial practice of belonging. The article makes explicit the links between alternative forms of democratic participation and sensations of individual and collective well-being that arise from outdoor dance experiences. Finally, it considers the role of rurality in constructing a festival imaginary that promotes participation, agency and connectivity.

  • O'Grady KA (2014) “This Place Is My Place. Sunrise [Total Recall], West Indian Centre, Leeds, UK. Saturday 22nd March 2014.”, Dancecult : Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. 6.2
    DOI: 10.12801/1947-5403.2014.06.02.09

  • O'Grady KA (2013) “Interrupting flow: researching play, performance and immersion in festival scenes”, Dancecult; Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. Doing nightlife and EDMC fieldwork. 5.1: 18-38.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79199/

    This article explores some of the challenges of conducting research associated with play within the context of EDMCs, with particular reference to the complex social and spatial dynamics of popular music festivals. The essential premise is that clubbing can be conceived as a form of play and, as such, can offer access to the experience of flow. The article considers the epistemological complexities of the researcher's own immersion within the play event and adopts practice-based research methodologies developed in performance studies as a way of acknowledging and critiquing the significance of felt experiences and embodied knowledge. It considers the practical and ethical challenges of researching a phenomenon where intrusion is not only inconvenient and impractical but effectively collapses and destroys the very object of attention. The article introduces the concept of autoethnographic flow and argues that, whilst such immersion is often viewed with suspicion by other disciplines, it is particularly pertinent to EDMC scholarship as the research stance offered here intentionally embeds the researcher within the research context and uses this positioning as a key element of research design.

  • O'Grady KA (2013) “Exploring radical openness: a porous model for relational festival performance.”, Studies in Theatre and Performance. 33.2: 133-151.
    DOI: 10.1386/stap.33.2.133_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79202/

    Popular music festivals are convivial spaces where paradigms of play and participation proliferate. ‘Exploring Radical Openness’ investigates the concept of relational performance where encounter and dynamic exchange are prioritized. Drawing on extensive practice-based research conducted predominantly within the UK festival circuit, it provides a model for interactivity that not only acknowledges the inherent unpredictability of the festival site but also exploits it in the pursuit of inclusivity and radical openness.

  • O'Grady KA, Kill R (2013) “Exploring Festival Performance as a State of Encounter”, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education: an international journal of theory, research and practice.
    DOI: 10.1177/1474022212473532, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/75345/

    This article outlines the activities of the research network ‘Festival Performance as a State of Encounter’, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Beyond Text strategic programme. The network was formulated in 2008, and a range of different events were organized over the course of two years to explore the concept of relational performance within the context of popular music festivals. One of the central aims of the network was to bring into dialogue scholars from a range of disciplines within the performing arts and creative industries and industry professionals and practitioners working on the festival circuit. The network provided a meeting place for industry–academy collaboration that prompted genuine exchange and knowledge transfer across sectors and challenged assumptions about the role and value of expertise and experience in relation to research processes. The article examines the notion of encounter and co-creation not only as a method of practice in festival performance but also as a methodology for facilitating fruitful conversation and dynamic interaction between stakeholders with a shared interest in understanding the deep impact of embodied participation in festival spaces.

  • O'Grady KA (2012) “Tracing the city - parkour training, play and the practice of collaborative learning”, Theatre Dance and Performer Training. Sport. 3.2: 145-162.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2012.686450, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79203/

    The article examines how parkour training is constructed and transmitted amongst localised peer groups known as ‘traceurs’. It concentrates on training practices that develop as a result of peer interaction in open, public spaces rather than formal training sessions that take place within a gym or as part of a regulated coaching programme. Drawing on extended interview material from a range of parkour practitioners with varying levels of experience and expertise, the article investigates the traceur's perspective on group training and how this relates to cognition and processes of learning. Using traceurs' own reflections the research will identify how physical obstacles, mental challenges, fear and risk are handled through repeated actions that then result in deeply embedded somatic responses to the built environment. The repertoire of moves that is shared between traceurs offers a patterned way of learning that, in turn, provides a route to embodied knowing. The research demonstrates how group training sessions in parkour can be conceived as collaborative learning and how that relates to theories of social learning (Bandura 1977, Lave 2009, Wenger 1998). The article argues that the efficacy of play as an approach to training provides a vehicle for active learning that chimes with the utilitarian aspect of parkour practice where to know and overcome obstacles represents the knowing and attainment of freedom.

  • O'Grady KA (2012) “Spaces of play: the spatial dimensions of underground club culture and locating the subjunctive”, Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. The Exodus of Psytrance. 4.1: 86-106.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79200/

    This article examines the interrelated concepts of space, play and performativity in relation to the underground club scene in the UK. Grounded in the discipline of performance studies, this article uses the lens of play to identify how the spatial characteristics of underground dance culture provide a fertile terrain for performative acts of collectivity and expression. Resonating with previous EDMC scholarship that invokes concepts of liminality and the social dimensions of “spontaneous communitas”, the physical and psychical dimensions of play will be considered. Applying Turner’s work on subjunctivity (1982) and Jill Dolan’s concept of “utopian performatives” (2005) in relation to the psytrance scene, the article positions the underground party as a playful arena, a spatial construct that offers a context for moments of individual and collective transformation that are expressed and experienced performatively.

  • Bayliss A, Palmer S, Hales D, Sheridan JG (2009) “(Re)searching through play: play as a framework and methodology for collaborative design processes”, International Journal of Arts and Technology. 2.1-2: 5-21.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2009.024054, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79204/

    This article presents the emergent objects research project Hoverflies - an investigation into hyper-physical interfaces where we explore how the traditional idea of 'user' might be supplanted by the notion of the 'participant-performer'. The concepts of play, composition and embodiment were central to the consideration of design by thinking through performance knowledge. Play frames as articulated and categorised by Huizinga and Caillois together with Deleuze's notion of the objectile were critical to the research process. Here, we discuss the design of technological and playful objects and offer a ludic response to the erasure of 'play' or 'looseness' in both technological systems and in the design process itself. The article describes the iterative performance of metaplay in the use of play as process. We ask how a designed outcome can induce play for participants and how play can be embraced within an open system of design.

  • Sheridan JG, Bayliss A, Bryan-Kinns N (2007) “The interior life of iPoi: objects that entice witting transitions in performative behaviour”, International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media. 3.1: 17-36.
    DOI: 10.1386/padm.3.1.17_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79206/

    This article charts the development of the iPoi project which we introduced in a previous edition of this journal (see New shapes on the dance floor: influencing ambient sound and vision with computationally augmented poi, IJPDAM, April 2005, 1.1). The work further explores our investigations into playful encounters with exertion interfaces. We consider the notion of wittingness (Sheridan 2006) and how it may be used as a device for tempting performative interactions within the context of a playful arena (Bayliss 2004), such as a club, party or social event where behaviours, expectations and embodied dialogues are already fluid and dependent upon exchanges with others. We further expand upon our concept of the performance triad model where the modes of performer, observer and participant are intentionally blurred and in flux. Whilst this article analyses in depth one particular deployment of iPoi in a live performance setting, the wider brief of this research lies in readdressing humans' relationships with technological objects by uncovering how one might use wittingness to stimulate performative behaviour and thus extend the capacity for creative expression through the affordance of these objects.

  • Bayliss KA (2007) “International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media(Editorship)”, International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media.

  • Bayliss A, McKinney JE, Popat S, Wallis M (2007) “Emergent objects: designing through performance”, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. 3.2-3: 269-279.
    DOI: 10.1386/padm.3.2-3.269_1

    This paper presents Emergent Objects 2, a portfolio of sub-projects funded by the EPSRC/AHRC Designing for the Twenty-first Century (D4C21) initiative. Our focus is on the way interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration allows fluidity and responsiveness in uncertain design contexts. Resisting the Modernist, instrumental conception of design, Emergent Objects 2 does not propose an alternative model for direct emulation. Rather, the aim is to defamiliarise the design process; and to play with its nature and possibilities. The notion of a singular designer is displaced by the notion of a collaborative design process, whereby any participant is an active design agent, partaking in design functions. The paper explores how key performance concepts of play and embodied knowing are employed within our design practices, with illustrations from the three subprojects: Snake, SpiderCrab and Hoverflies.

  • Bayliss KA, Sheridan JG, Villar N (2005) “New shapes on the dance floor: influencing ambient sound and vision with computationally augmented poi”, International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media. 1.1: 67-82.

  • Bayliss KA (2004) “The Fourth International Drama in Education Research Institute - Destabilising distinctions and definitions”, Research in Drama Education. 9.1: 111-113.

  • Bayliss KA (2000) “Teachers and Practitioners of Drama and Theatre in Great Britain, French-speaking Belgium and France”, Research in Drama Education. 5.2: 309-311.

  • Bayliss KA (1999) “Playing with Words: an exploration of ludic terms and the linguistic permeation of play in a cultural context”, Research in Drama Education. Vol 4.1: 73-84.

    The word 'play' permeates our language and can refer to a range of different and seemingly disparate activities. The play of children may be distinct from the play-world of the theatre but by examining the linguistic connection within a cultural framework, we can begin to see how a society's understanding of play may affect directly the work of drama educationists in schools today. Play is often understood in relation to its apparent opposite - work, reality or seriousness. This article attempts to explode this socially constructed polarisation and explores play in its relation to ritual, liminality, anarchy and revolution.


  • O'Grady A (2017) “Dancing Outdoors: the DIY ethic of the campsite, the politics of outdoor space and the aesthetics of the UK alternative festival circuit”, In: St John G (eds.) Weekend societies: electronic dance music festivals and event-cultures. London, UK: Bloomsbury. 137-158
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/125241/

  • O'Grady A (2017) “Introduction: Risky aesthetics, critical vulnerabilities, and edgeplay: Tactical performances of the unknown”, In: Risk, Participation, and Performance Practice: Critical Vulnerabilities in a Precarious World. 1-29
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-63242-1_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/125246/

    © The Author(s) 2017. This chapter brings into conversation research on risk and on participatory performance to examine the critical vulnerabilities at play in performance work which has risk embedded in its aesthetic. It takes the theoretical concept of edgework and reframes it in relation to participatory practice where playing on the edge is carried out as a tactic. It examines risk taking as a form of openness and as a means of creating spaces of potentiality. Drawing on Doreen Massey’s notion of radical openness it analyses a piece of practice led research to critique the application of risky aesthetics in participatory performance. It considers the ways in which the risks associated with ‘performative unknowns’ reveal the paradoxical effects of openness in relation to risk perception and vulnerability. The chapter proposes a new category of risk taking, namely ‘edgeplay’, a concept that combines sociological perspectives on voluntary risk taking with the playful and the performative. The playful aspect of this category acknowledges the slippery, contingent and equivocal nature of much participatory performance that deliberately seeks to blur boundaries and unsettle fixed distinctions. Applying the concept of edgeplay not only facilitates an interdisciplinary approach to analysis but also provides a critical tool for examining the motivations underpinning performance practice where risk and uncertainty are key features.

  • O'Grady KA (2015) “Being there: encounters with space and the affective dimension of arena spectacle.”, In: Halligan B; Fairclough-Isaacs K; Edgar R; Spelman N (eds.) The Arena Concert: music, media and mass entertainment. New York: Bloomsbury.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/102040/

  • O'Grady KA (2015) “Alternative playworlds: Psytrance festivals, deep play and creative zones of transcendence.”, In: McKay G (eds.) The Pop Festival: history, music, media, culture. Bloomsbury. 149-164

  • O'Grady KA (2011) “Interactivity”, In: Pitches J (eds.) Performance Perspectives. Palgrave. (Accepted)

  • McKinney J, Popat S, Bayliss A, Wallis M (2010) “Emergent Objects: Performance and Interdiscplinary Design at the Human/Technological Interface”, In: Designing for the 21st Century, vol 2, Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings. Gower. 116-131

  • Bayliss KA, McKinney JE (2007) “Emergent Objects: Design and Performance Research Cluster”, In: Inns T (eds.) Designing for the 21st Century. Gower Ashgate. 150-165

    This chapter lays out the rationale, activities and insights of the Emergent Objects Design and Performance Research Cluster. The cluster provides a platform for the inter-disciplinary exploration of the relationship between design and performance and brings together researchers and practitioners in the fields of robotics, performance, new media, digital arts and urban regeneration. The chapter considers how practice-based research methodologies facilitate inter-disciplinary collaboration and understanding particularly in the context of the development of products and interfaces which are fluid, malleable and emergent.

  • Sheridan JG, Dix A, Lock S, Bayliss A (2004) “Understanding Interaction in Ubiquitous Guerilla Perfomances in Playful Arenas”, In: Fincher S; Markopolous P; Moore D; Ruddle R (eds.) People and Computers XVIII - Design for Life: Proceedings of HCI 2004. Springer-Verlag. 3-18

Conference papers

  • O'Grady KA (2014) Dancing Outdoors: the DIY ethic of the campsite, the politics of outdoor space and the aesthetics of the UK psytrance festival. 18th Biennial IASPM Conference (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) (Accepted)

  • O'Grady KA (2012) Networked spaces of imagination and the aesthetics of the psytrance scene. International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM)

    This paper focuses on the psytrance scene, a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Goa in the early 1990s and infuses today’s festival culture. With its roots in countercultural ideology and with a commitment to alterity, psytrance has since developed into a cultural formulation that has recognisable sounds, aesthetics and values that are globally distributed. Notions of community are deeply embedded within the metanarrative of psytrance and localised scenes capitalise on dynamic, personalised networks to foster a sense of belonging and identification for participants. A critical route to this process of identification is via the organisation and decoration of space, visual aesthetics and iconography. This paper explores the paradoxes of the psytrance landscape, examining its local/global and real/imagined dimensions and how this is expressed aesthetically. It shows how the pystrance scene is intimately associated with physical place but operates simultaneously as a networked space of imagination that lies far beyond the immediate locale.

  • O'Grady KA (2012) An emergent symbiosis? The Festival Industry and Performance Practice.. PSi 18

    The festival industry within the UK is big business and remains buoyant despite the current economic downturn. Although estimates vary across different sources, a recent Mintel report (August 2010) suggests that the UK music festival market is worth around £182 million per annum. In 2010, there were over 700 music festivals in Britain alone, and approximately three million people attend these events each year (UK Festival Market Report 2009). As well as offering a wide range of musical performance to suit all tastes in the form of bands, solo artists and DJs, in order to remain competitive within what is rapidly becoming a saturated market, festival organisers are looking towards contemporary performance to augment the festival experience for participants. Although much of this performance is not always highlighted within the programming of a festival, most events now include a whole range of performance practice that encompasses cabaret, burlesque, circus, walkabout, sound installation, performance poetry, comedy, pyrotechniques, procession and much more. This paper will use case study material from the Beyond Text ‘Environments for Encounter’ project (2010–2011) to explore the symbiotic relationship between industry and practice in this context. This practice-based research project developed the concept of ‘relational performance’ within festival spaces in collaboration with Urban Angels Circus and uncovered a number of issues relating to potential conflicts between economic worth and performance efficacy. This paper will examine the ambivalent relationship between the festival industry and contemporary performance practice and will explore issues of value from both sides. What is of ‘value’ in this context and how might the current festival landscape reflect a cultural shift that prioritises participation over spectatorship thereby significantly altering patterns of consumption? To what extent is contemporary performance valued by the festival industry and by festival-goers as an inherent part of the bespoke festival experience? How far has performance become standardised as part of the festival package, another cog in the commercial machine? What role may performance have in (re)valuing the festival as a dynamic space that operates in the subjunctive mood where new paradigms of cultural and economic efficacy may be explored?

  • O'Grady KA, Kill R (2011) Environments for Encounter and the Processes of Organising for Interactivity and Performative Participation Within the Festival Space. 2nd Workshop on Imagining Business

  • Palmer SD, O'Grady A, Hales D, Sheridan J (2007) Hoverflies - Researching through play. Emergent Objetcs : Performing Design - Design for the 21st Century

    Installation of interactive swings and presentation for AHRC/EPSRC funded Emergent Objects, Design for 21st Century International Colloquium

  • Sheridan JG, Bryan-Kinns N, Bayliss KA (2007) Encouraging Witting Participation and Performance in Digital Live Art. Proceedings: 21st British HCI Group Annual Conference 21st British HCI Group Annual Conference.

  • Bayliss KA (2006) Playing in the Dark: places and spaces for play and the performative architectures of club culture. Manchester, Music and Place

  • Sheridan JG, Bayliss KA, Bryan-Kinns N (2006) iPoi: acceleration as a medium for digital live art. Proceedings: The 8th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing The 8th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing.

  • Bayliss KA (2005) Making space to move: underground clubbing and sensual performance. Proceedings: Sensi/able Spaces: Reyjavik, Iceland Sensi/able Spaces: Reyjavik, Iceland.

  • Sheridan JG, Lock S, Bayliss A (2004) :.thePooch:. HCI and Live Performance. Proceedings: Designer, User, Meaning Maker: Rethinking Relationships for a more Creative HCI, British HCI 2004 Designer, User, Meaning Maker: Rethinking Relationships for a more Creative HCI, British HCI 2004.

  • Bayliss KA, Lock S, Sheridan JG (2004) Augmenting Expectation in Playful Arena Performances with Ubiquitous Intimate Technologies. Proceedings: Pixel Raiders 2 Pixel Raiders 2.


  • O'Grady KA, Urban Angels Circus, Kill R The Heavenly Court of Madame Fantaisiste. 10//2/01/0

  • Bayliss KA Fatmoon Psydeshow Bobs. Performance 08//2/01/0

    A series of three interactive and fully mobile performance pieces created as practice led research into playful performance within club culture. Performed at the Shamania festival in July 2006, this work was devised and produced in collaboration with undergraduate students from the School of Performance and Cultural Industries under the company name of ...Floorspace...

  • Bayliss KA Way to Make a Living. 07//2/01/0

Research Projects & Grants

September 2012, Co-Investigator and consortium member, Performing the Past: exploring the heritage of working-class communities in Yorkshire (PI Dr Vicky Crewe, Dept of Archaeology, University of Sheffield) White Rose Collaboration Fund

This network will capitalize on the potential offered across WRUC to develop innovative multi-disciplinary methods for investigating and disseminating working-class histories (c.1800-1930), through collaboration with regional heritage organisations. Once regarded as being accessible only as the subjects of ‘official’ documents, working-class communities have recently begun to be analysed in new ways, as the material remains they produced and used − including autobiographies, diaries, poetry, photographs, paintings, material culture – have emerged as rich sources of information. Alongside this exciting body of research, pioneering – if hitherto uncoordinated – work to deliver this heritage has recently commenced, as witnessed by collaborations with the National Coal Mining Museum (UoL), York Archaeological Trust (UoY), and Point Blank Theatre Company (UoS). The network seeks to coordinate these research strands, bringing together academics and doctoral students from archaeology, history and literature, with those from film studies, theatre, performance, and museum studies in order to generate new models for telling stories about the past, drawing on the potential of practice-based methodologies.

2010-2012, Principle Investigator, Environments for Encounter (Co-I Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University) AHRC Small Grants – Beyond Text Scheme
This project explored the phenomenon of relational performance within contemporary music festivals as an emergent genre of creative communication. Academic researchers worked in partnership with Urban Angels Circus who were commissioned to make a piece of interactive performance. ‘The Heavenly Court of Madame Fantaisiste’ was toured to three different popular music festivals across the UK and Europe. These included Kendal Calling, Bestival and Cactus Festival in Belgium. Each festival was chosen to provide a different ‘environment for encounter’ so that a comparative analysis could be made. In addition the project engaged with festival promoters in order to assess the impact this type of performance practice may have in terms of developing festival culture.

You can watch a film of the project made by Laura Taylor of Leeds Beckett University here:


2008-2010, Principle Investigator, Exploring Festival Performance as a ‘State of Encounter’ (Co-I Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University) AHRC Research Networks and Workshops – Beyond Text Scheme
This network discussed the types of relational performance that occur at contemporary music and dance festivals in the UK. It will explore improvisation and space; the playful arena; the transmission of memory and archiving; storytelling and the role of electronic media such as mobile phones, and the internet in creating the “field of festival culture” and festival memories.  Four seminars were held over two years with an invited group of academics, practitioners and industry specialists. The seminars took place in Leeds with a view to establishing a national research hub based in the Yorkshire region.

2006-7 Co- Investigator, Emergent Objects: Designing the human/technology interface through performance http://www.emergentobjects.co.uk/P.I. Prof Mick Wallis, EPSRC/AHRC funded project (December 2006 – December 2007) as part of the Designing for the 21st Century initiative.
In this second phase, the Emergent Objects research project drew on performance knowledge to explore and articulate the emergent nature of the interface between technological object and human that is fundamental to the development of new design thinking and practices. The project used performance perspectives to investigate the modelling of the role of design in a technological society and asked questions about the desirable relationships between users and designed artefacts, systems or environments.

2005-6, Co-Investigator, Emergent Objects:  Design and Performance Cluster (P.I. Dr Calvin Taylor) EPSRC/AHRC funded project as part of the Designing for the 21st Century initiative.
This twelve-month project investigated the relationships between discourses and practices in design and performance. This work provided the protocols and framework for further funded research dedicated to the theorisation and development of design processes.

Research Centres & Groups

Alice is a member of the Place and Performance Research Group.

She is a member of IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music, UK and Ireland).

External Appointments

International Advisory Board Member for Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture

From the Floor Editor for Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture

Editorial board: Punk and Post Punk (Intellect)

Editorial board: International Journal of Performance and Digital Media (Intellect)

External Examiner: BA Contemporary and Applied Theatre Studies, University of Limerick (current)

External Examiner MA Applied Theatre, Central School of Speech and Drama (2010 – 2013)

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Urban Angels Circus

Advisory Board Member, The Grief Series

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Sam McKay Representing Others: spaces of liberation or erasure?

Bethany Wells Other Acts of Public WARMTH: the sauna as a performative tool. (co supervised with Dr Joslin McKinney)

Sarah Little (WRoCAH Scholarship) The politico-philosophical values and practices of the 1970s UK community arts movement as a framework for exploring the encouragement of cultural democracy through art in communities and cultural movements today. (co supervised with Dr Anna Upchurch)

Carley Stubbs De-Mystifying Transition: Accessing Experience (using stories/storytelling to ease the challenges of transition in the lives of people with learning disabilities). (co supervised with Dr Elizabeth Tilley and Dr Helen Graham)

Roxanne Yeganegy The Politics of Participation: Burning Man and British festival culture. (co supervised with Prof Derek Scott).



PhD Thesis

O’Grady, A. “Underground Club Spaces and Interactive Performance”, University of Leeds, 2009

Underground Club Spaces and Interactive Performance:

How might underground club spaces be read and developed as new environments for democratic/participatory/interactive performance and how are these performative spaces of play created, navigated and utilised by those who inhabit them?


This thesis examines how the underground club space might be read and developed as a new environment for performances that are democratic, participatory and interactive. It positions the club space as a playful arena and asks how these performative spaces of play are created, navigated and utilised by those who inhabit them. The study looks at the club space and the activities housed therein using performance theory as a lens and as a theoretical tool for understanding the nature of the club context and the possibilities it affords for performative exchange. The thesis identifies and explores the continuum of performance practice that occurs within club spaces and analyses a number of bespoke performances that have been developed specifically for this study in order to illuminate particular theoretical models of interaction. The central premise of this research is that underground clubbing practices themselves can be understood as participatory performance. The ethos of participation prevalent within this culture results in notions of community, engagement and reciprocity being widely circulated and cited as a significant element of the underground experience by clubbers immersed in the scene. This research takes into account the belief in the provisionality of the clubbing space as a potential site of performance where people may try out alternatives, imagine (im)possibilities and play. Furthermore it explores how performance practice carried out in the underground may help develop interactive structures that can be applied to other contexts. Building on existing scholarship in club culture, this study contributes to new knowledge in the field in that it draws parallels between the club space and spaces of play as a way of modelling potential platforms for performative exchange. In addition the study develops a set of models for analysing performance that occurs in unpredictable, fluid, social spaces.

Professional Practice

‘The Heavenly Court of Madame Fantaisiste’, in collaboration with Urban Angels Circus. Cactus Festival (2011), Bestival (2010), Kendal Calling (2010).

Practice-as-Research performances with …floorSpace… includes ‘Tea Party’, ‘Back Street Cleaners’, ‘Way to Make a Living’, ‘Freak Safari’, ‘Alien Tourists’ at various festivals including Magic Loungeabout (2011), Kendal Calling (2010), Beatherder (2009), Nozstock (2009, 2013), Shamania (2008, 2006).


Beyond Text – Exploring Festival Performance as a State of Encounter: a short documentary about Alice’s recent AHRC funded research project.


Environments for Encounter: a documentary film made about the process of making “The Heavenly Court of Madame Fantaisiste” and researching relational performance at festivals.



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