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Jess McCormack – Bath Spa University

 Alumni profile 

Course studied: BA (Hons) Dance
Graduating year: 2008

About me

Directly after graduating, I worked as a performer, choreographer, movement director, teacher and community dance facilitator. I then went on to gain an MA and PhD in performance research and I now work as a dance academic.

I really enjoy what I do. In my role as a practitioner-researcher, I teach university students, produce live performances, publish research and present my research at national and international academic conferences and arts events.

My research on choreographic practices incorporates practice-as-research and critical theory. My current interests include contemporary choreographic practices, applied performance practices and sited performance.

For the past three years, I've been working in the Department of Theatre at the University of Bristol, teaching on the Theatre and Performance Studies degree programme. In this role, I direct units in ‘Choreography for Theatre’, ‘Site-Specific Performance’ and ‘Applied Performance’.

My recently published book Choreography and Verbatim Theatre: Dancing Words (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) is the first major publication to focus on choreography and verbatim theatre. This book asks how spoken words might be translated into dance.

Qualifications and achievements

  • PhD, ‘Dancing Other People’s Words’, University of Bristol
  • MA Performance Research, University of Bristol
  • BA Hons Dance Studies, Bath Spa University

"After completing a BTEC Performing Arts, I knew that I loved dance and theatre, but I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to go to university. I was still hesitant when I started... but then over the course of the degree I absolutely fell in love with learning. Thank you, Bath Spa!"

Why did you choose the course you studied at Bath Spa?

I actually came to see some of the performance work from the dance degree and was really impressed by the standard of the work. The campus was beautiful and I liked the idea of being in the dance studio or library and seeing cows walk past the window!

What were your highlights?

I really enjoyed the variety of the course. We would move from a technique class, to a choreography session, to a dance for camera session into a lecture and it was exciting to be learning so many new things. A particular highlight was being able to bring three years of learning together to choreograph my final piece at the end of the degree. My group and I successfully entered our final piece into an annual dance festival in London. It was fantastic that a week after the end of the degree we were sharing our work in the real world!

How did the course support your steps into industry?

Throughout the degree we had the opportunity to meet professional choreographers, dance educators, dance researchers, dance film makers and performers and this, along with a specific final year unit that prepared us for life after the degree, meant that I had a really clear idea about the industry I was going into and the career pathways available to me.

"The best thing about the course is..."

Lecturers who are knowledgeable, passionate and supportive, and who make each subject fascinating.

"I am most proud of..."

I have recently been shortlisted for a University Teaching Award for 'Outstanding Teaching'. I feel very lucky to be working with the dance and theatre practitioners of the future. 

"My advice for current students is..."

Explore everything and then start to think about what it is that excites you the most.

"I recommend Bath Spa because..."

It's an excellent place to study. It has strong links with industry professionals and fantastic lecturers who you'll remember long after you've left.

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