Dancing with Chronic Pain: Insights Into Ecological Pain

Research output: Contributions to books, editions, reports or conference proceedingsChapterpeer-review



This chapter focuses on dance practice, lived experience of chronic pain, concepts of ‘pain’, and methods for relating to wider ecological pain. I have lived with chronic back and neurological pain for 19 years. My experiences of living with, and learning to relate to, my pain, has suggested to me that my relationship to pain can resonate with what it means to live with, and relate to, wider ecological pain. My proposal is that living with chronic pain provides knowledge - such as insights into human vulnerability and tactics for working with despair and grief - that is useful for learning to live in a world that is becoming increasingly uncomfortable and unsupportive for human and other life.

I critically-creatively reflect on my practice-led research project, Ecologies of Pain, which involved developing performance practices with artists with chronic pain. I explore how chronic pain performance practice can enable us to ‘stay with the trouble’ of a ‘wounded Earth’ (Haraway, 2016). I argue that performance and choreography practices can uniquely develop creative methods for turning towards, and relating to, the pain of a damaged Earth.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCambridge Companion to Theatre and Ecology
EditorsCarl Lavery
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Author keywords

  • chronic pain, ecology, dance, performance, autoethnography, performance research, practice-led research, practice as research