Ellen Jeffrey

Email: el.jeffrey@outlook.com

Thesis Title

Nightfalling: a choreological approach to twilight through a time-specific movement practice


Lancaster University


Nigel Stewart (Lancaster University)
Professor Nick Dunn (Lancaster University)

Research Summary

This artistic research project is concerned with the development of a noctographic movement practice using choreological principles. This practice aims to investigate the perception of rural nightscapes through movement. The practice is designed to take place at nightfall in all seasons of the year and is therefore (i) a time-specific practice, concerned with engaging with the durational and temporal qualities of a nightscape, and (ii) a site-specific practice, concerned with co-forming place through the experience of night’s darkness.

The research uses choreological analysis, phenomenology and new materialism to reflect upon the experiences that individuals and communities have of a site at night. In doing so, this thesis considers how engaging with a night-time, durational movement practice – a practice in which the real and imagined, self and other, become entangled − has the capacity to transform human and more-than-human relatedness.

By engaging with night as a world in which what is visually perceived no longer equates to clarity and accuracy − a world where the imagination anticipates form rather than recognises it − this artistic research endeavours to comprehend the movement of the dancer in the dark as a patterning of potentialities that compose and de-compose within the temporalities of that nightscape.

Central to this practice is the inquiry as to whether, at night, movement holds within itself the potentiality to be beyond-form, as much as the dark is beyond-vision.

Research Interests

movement analysis,
site-specific performance,
time-specific performance,
new materialism.


Jeffrey, Ellen (2023) “Nightfalling: dancing in the dark as an artistic practice” in Dark Skies: Places, Practices, Communities (Eds. Dunn, N. & Edensor, T.) Routledge: Oxon

Jeffrey, Ellen (2021) “Nightfalling: a choreological approach to twilight through a time-specific movement practice”, Ph.D. Thesis

Jeffrey, Ellen (2021) “Waders: Bodies Attending to Precariousness”, [Blog]

Jeffrey, Ellen (2019) ‘Dancing in the dark’, Animated Spring/Summer 2019, pp. 36-37

Jeffrey, Ellen (2015) “Things I put in my pocket” in Monni, Kirsi & Allsopp, Ric (Eds.) Practicing Composition: Making Practice, Helsinki: Teatterikorkeakoulu

Jeffrey, Ellen (2014) “Jenni Kokkomaki and the essential difference” in Arlander, Annette. (Ed.) Episodi 4: This and that, Essays on Live Art and Performance Studies, Helsinki: Teatterikorkeakoulu

Conference Papers

2022 ‘Nightfalling: dancing in the dark as an artistic practice’, Sentient Performativities, Dartington: UK.

2021 ‘The night dances: investigating the place-specificity of darkness’, Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, London: UK.

2021 ‘Moving Nightscapes: Choreographing Nightfall with Cumbria’s Dark Skies’, Dark Skies Festival 2021, Friends of the Lake District: UK.

2019 ‘Kinespheric Clusters: exploring materialities through movement’, Per/Forming Futures: Artistic Doctorates in Europe, Middlesex University: UK.

2019 ‘Making Night-Kin: encountering darkness through a movement-based practice’, Darkness, Island Dynamics Conference, Svalbard: NOR

2018 ‘Dancing in the dark: dismantling dichotomies through noctographic practice’, Our Dance Democracy, Liverpool Hope University: UK.

2018 ‘Night Holding: Documenting nautical twilight through movement, sound and scores’, Digital Humanities, Human Technologies (NWCDTP Postgraduate Conference), University of Salford: UK.

2018 ‘The Night Drifts: mapping the dark through movement-based practice’, Beyond the Pedestrian: Walking in Research, Theory, Practice and Performance, The University of Liverpool: UK.

2018 ‘Method in Motion: investigating nightscapes through choreological practice’, Artful Research Symposium, Manchester University: UK.

2018 ‘The Night Shifts: Approaching Atmospheres Through a Site-Specific Movement Practice’, Practice-as-Research Conference, Guildford School of Acting, University of Surrey: UK.

2017 ‘Where movement takes place; actual and non-actual encounters with space’, Between Spaces, University of Chichester: UK.

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