Our People

pavel cenkl

Dr Rachel Sweeney


Head of Schumacher College Programmes
Programme Lead MA Movement Mind Ecology.

Higher Close

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.


Rachel Sweeney has worked in Higher Education for the past twenty years, expanding approaches to educating students through experiential and transdisciplinary learning.  She is Programme Lead for the MA Movement Mind and Ecology at Schumacher College.  She  previously worked as Head of Dance Studies at Liverpool Hope University, as a Visiting Fellow for the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, and as a Centre Fellow for the Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Plymouth. 

 As a long standing movement artist, her own practice is embedded in eco-somatics, which she views as a tool to foster self and self-with-other understandings of our natural world, and her research actively seeks out transdisciplinary approaches to decolonizing body-place relationships, while engaging creatively and imaginatively with cultural heritage and sustainability practices. Rachel is a graduate of the BA Theatre Degree at Dartington College of Arts and holds an AHRC funded PhD from Middlesex University exploring site-based approaches to movement training working in nature environments. 

She is Co-Director of The Floating Village (UK, IRL) whose work engages rural communities in creative and artistic collaborative approaches to bring about public dialogue around how to live with change and to work collectively towards imaginary futures. Locally, she forms part of the Movement Network South West, and her work has been supported through Dartmoor National Park Authorities, Teignmouth County Council and Dance in Devon.  Further afield, her research has been supported through the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, Creative Ireland,  and CSIRO Australia.


2020   Migrating Gestures: Body Weather as a cartographic process within interdisciplinary pedagogy’ Dancer Citizen publication http://dancercitizen.org/issue-10/rachel-sweeney/  

2019 Rhythm in Motion: developing English skills through music and creative movement. Creative Arts Education Therapy Vol 5(2):134–142  

2018 ‘Dance Ecology as a Live Research Practice’ (eds) McGrath, A. & Meehan, E. in Dance Matters in Ireland: Contemporary Dance Performance and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, London, January 2018.  

2017 ‘Animate Shadows: exploring synaesthesia and kinaesthesia within digital dance.’ Body Space Technology Journal.  http://people.brunel.ac.uk/bst/vol16/  

2015 Staging the logocentric body: transcribing dance as utterance. In C. F. Stock & P. Germain-Thomas (Eds.), Contemporising the past: envisaging the future, Proceedings of the 2014 World Dance Alliance Global Summit. https://ausdance.org.au/articles/details/staging-the-logocentric-body-transcribing-dance-as-utterance   

2013 ‘Topophilia and Topophobia; charting site based dance on the vertical’ in the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices Intellect Press, UK. Vol. 5 Issue 2. Dec 2013. 

2012 ‘Tracking Entities: choreography as a cartographic process’ in Choreographic Practices Vol 2: 2012 Intellect Press, UK. Editors Jane Bacon and Vida Midgelow  

2012      ‘Distilling Principles – an investigation into the role of consciousness in Butoh training’ in Theatre Dance and Performance Training Vol. 3 Issue 1, March 2012  

2011 ‘Surface Tensions’ co-authored publication in Double Dialogues peer reviewed online journal.http://www.doubledialogues.com/issue_fourteen/Orr_Sweeney.html 


Jan 2023  ‘Unearthing: developing social permaculture philosophy and principles through shared  movement practice’ Oxford Real Farming Conference 2023 

Feb  2022  Embodied Ecology / Deep Encounters in Hybrid Place(s) with Dr. Pavel Cenkl,  Rd. Rachel Sweeney, Dr. Marie Metenier. Re-imagining Education Conference (online)  

July 2022   ‘Embodied Ecology / MA Movement Mind & Ecology, an introduction to 
reimagining education in 21st century with Dr. Pavel Cenkl and Dr. Marie Metenier. Art.Earth Sentient Performativities: Thinking Alongside the Human Symposium, Dartington Hall and surrounds, UK.  

May 2021  ‘The Floating Village: creating a corporeo-digital archive of water|body exchange’ Modes of Capture Symposium at the Irish World Academy of Music and  Dance at University of Limerick in partnership with Liz Roche Company and Dublin Dance Festival.   

 Nov 2019Migrating Gestures: Choreography as a Cartographic Practice’ at Co-Motion: Dance and Borders an all-Ireland dance conference, Belfast International Arts Festival and Queen’s University Belfast. 

Nov 2018Body Weather as a cartographic process within interdisciplinary pedagogy’ at Modes of Capture conference, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. 

June 2018‘Dance Ecology as a Live Research Practice’ at Dance Research Forum Ireland Conference, University of Limerick. 

April 2017Chair and co-convenor, ‘Sacred Places: Performances, Politics and Ecologies – A Multidisciplinary Perspective’, a Liverpool Hope University and IFTR (International Federation of Theatre Research) symposium.  

July 2015Corporeography and Writing through (In)tensities’ at Performance Studies International Beyond Contamination – Corporeality, Spirituality and Pilgrimage in Northern Japan. PSI 2015 conference Tohoku, Japan. 

June 2013 Online performance paper and workshop at Balance / Unbalance International Conference, hosted by the UNESCO recognised Noosa Biosphere, Queensland Australia. 

 June 2013‘Staging Liquid Landscapes’ at Future Climate Dialogues, Aberystwyth Arts Centre.  

July 2013‘SKIN CITY: globalised spectatorship within immersive theatre practice’ – at Crisis, Civility, Imaginaries and Revolt: New Politics for the Global City?, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra.  

April 2013 ‘Inscribing Writing’- a performative lecture for What is Performance Philosophy? Conference, Performance Philosophy Research Group, University of Surrey. 

March 2013     ‘SandSkin | BloodWater: a performative lecture National World Water Day Symposium, (online) http://blog.water-wheel.net/2013/05/3wds13-documentation-2-tap.html 

Nov 2012 ‘Surface Tensions: mapping flood landscapes through motion’. Guest speaker at the Human Ecology Forum seminar series, Fenner School of Environmental Studies, Australian National University. 

Nov 2012 ‘Staging the Logocentric Body: transcribing dance as utterance’. Guest Speaker at Phenomenology Studies Research Seminar Series at the Department of Performance Studies, University of Sydney. 

Oct 2012‘Shifting States: translation, transmission and transformation in site based dance practice’. Seminar Series at Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University. 

July 2012SandSkin | BloodWater: a dance ecology project’ at ‘Water: Image’ conference , School of Arts, University of Plymouth, UK. 

July 2011 ‘Butoh and the Politics of Pain’, at Australasian Association for Theatre Drama and Performance Studies Conference, Transcultural. Transnational. Transformation: seeing, writing and reading performance across cultures, Monash University, Australia.  

July2009‘Distilling Principles’, at Australasian Association for Theatre Drama and Performance Studies Conference, Boom or Bust: Economies of production & exchange in theatre, performance & culture, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. 

Research interests

Environmental Humanities 
Art Activism 
Embodied Facilitation and Leadership
Contemporary Performance Philosophy
Movement Ecology
Deep Mapping
Experimental Heritage
Micro Phenomenology