Sally Dean


Personal profile

Personal profile

Research Working Title:  

The ‘Touch’ of a Costume:  Somatic & Performative Interfaces

Research Question:  

How do we design costumes that facilitate kinesthetic awareness through the sense of touch between the performer and the costume?  How do these costumes, and their experiences, become translated into somatic and performative interfaces?  My research combines the fields of costume design, somatic movement, anthropology of the senses and performance.  I problematize the visual sensorial hierarchy in modern costume design and performance methodologies, and argue for a re-balancing of the senses through the sense of touch as a multi-sensorial experience.

Sally E. Dean (USA/UK) has been an interdisciplinary performer, performance maker and teacher over 15 years - in university, professional and community settings across Europe, Asia and the USA.  Her teaching and performance work is highly informed by somatic-based practices, her cross-cultural projects in Asia and her background in both dance and theatre - integrating site, costume and object.

Sally is a teacher of Scaravelli Yoga, Skinner Releasing Technique, Javanese Amerta Movement, as well as integrates her training in butoh, improvisation, physical theatre and playwriting.  Sally teaches nationally and internationally to include most recently at ImpulsTanz (Austria), International MASQUE Festival (Finland), Royal Holloway University, Siobhan Davies Studios, Dance Research Studios and London College of Fashion.

Sally's recent performance work is immersive and site-specific. Her work has been produced in venues ranging from established theatres, such as The Place (Robin Howard Dance Theatre), Hackney Empire and Battersea Arts Centre (London), festivals such as Edinburgh Fringe Festival, New York Musical Festival, International MASQUE Theatre Festival (Helsinki, Finland), Prague Fringe Festival, San Francisco Fringe Festival, to site-specific settings such as church crypts, traditional Javanese markets, a post-war junk museum, and gallery spaces.  She has been supported by the Arts Council England and the British Council. 

Since 2011, Sally leads the ‘Somatic Movement, Costume& Performance Project’ – designing costumes that create specific body-mind experiences leading to performances, lectures, films and workshops. This project has been the inspiration for her PhD research.


Dean, S. E. (2016), ‘Where is the body in the costume design process?’, Studies
in Costume & Performance, 1: 1, pp. 87–101.

Dean, S. E. (2015)‘Amerta Movement & Somatic Costume: Gateways into Environment’, in S. Whatley, N. Garrett-Brown and K. Alexander (eds), Attending to Movement: Somatic Perspectives on Living in this World, Axminster: Triarchy Press, pp. 155-180.

Dean, S. E. (2014), ‘Somatic costumes™: Traversing multi-sensorial landscapes’, Scene 2: 1+2, pp. 81-87.

Dean, S. E. (2014), ‘Amerta Movement & Somatic Costume: Sourcing the Ecological Image’, in: K. Bloom, M. Galanter and S. Reeve (eds), Embodied Lives: Reflections on the Influence of Suprapto Suryodarmo and Amerta Movement, Axminster: Triarchy Press, pp. 113-126.

Dean, S. E. (2011), ‘Somatic movement and costume: A practical, investigative project,’ Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices 3: 1+2, pp. 167-182.

Dean, S. E. (2009), 'Departing from Tradition: Insights from Java,' In Dance, Jan./Feb., p.3. /