Ms Katrina Carter

Supervised by

  • Libby Worth First/primary/lead supervisor



I am a full member of Equity.

I am also a member of TAPRA & IFTR.

Previously I was a board member for ANIMATE Community Arts based in Herne Bay, Kent and The Circus Arts Forum now the Circus Development Agency.

Educational background

RHUL - PhD; MPhil

UKC - MA Practice as Research

UKC - BA Hons in Drama and Theatre Studies

Other work

Freelance Aerial Instructor: I continue to work as a freelance aerial instructor and choreographer with a close working relationship with Graeae Theatre Company & Circo Crescer e Viver.  

Aerial Choreographer for Paralympic Opening Ceremony: I was fortunate enough to be offered a fantastic role as part of the POC for London 2012.  Working closely with Artistic Directors Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings and Aerial Consultant Phil Hayes I ran the daily aerial rehearsals, devising sequences that were then incorporated into the ceremony.  A very proud time for sure.

Research Assistant for PALATINE funded project: I was offered this position at RHUL for the research project investigating Participatory Research and Learning in the Performing Arts which is jointly run by Matthew Cohen (Drama); Tina Ramnarine (Music) and Henry Stobart (Music).  The role involves running a symposium; compiling an annotated bibliography; managing promotion and website for the project; conducting interviews and observations of academics and artists utilising participatory research and learning in their work.  It is a short term contract.


Research interests

PhD Thesis

Suspending Conventions: How ‘disabled aerialists’ are challenging aesthetic and methodological practices in 21st Century aerial(ism)

Aerial(ism) is the art of suspended movement, generated by aerialists working with
equipment such as trapezes, ropes and harnesses. It is frequently but not exclusively
associated with the circus and throughout its history has been dominated by non-disabled
performers. Increasing numbers of disabled artists are however, now engaging with aerial.
This thesis therefore examines how ‘disabled aerialists’ are challenging aesthetic and
methodological aerial practices in the twenty-first century.

As a professional aerialist working extensively with disabled performers, the research
draws on my practice and direct correspondence with other disabled and non-disabled
practitioners. It features two case studies in which I was aerial choreographer and trainer:
Hang-ups!, a short film featuring Sophie Partridge who performs in a fabric cocoon and the
Paralympic Opening Ceremony of London 2012 which included more than twenty ‘disabled
aerialists’ using diverse aerial equipment. Historical and cultural perspectives of aerial are
drawn from the few academic experts in the field, notably Paul Bouissac, Steve Gossard and
Peta Tait; disability perspectives are guided by a wealth of theorists including Erving Goffman,
P. David Howe, Tom Shakespeare and Rosemarie Garland Thomson.

The research shows how aerial has been connected to disability and/or impairment
throughout its history. It provides evidence that ‘disabled aerialists’ existed in the past but
have been forgotten, despite at least one unipedal aerialist contributing significantly to what
Tait calls the ‘living history’ of the form. It demonstrates how twenty-first century ‘disabled
aerialists’ offer significant opportunities to alter the form’s increasing aesthetic of conformity,
but that challenges continue to exist in both how this can be done, and how the work might be


E15 Acting School, Southend Campus: I have been teaching aerial on the Physical Theatre BA since it began in 2009. The course aims to teach students a strong level of aerial technique with a paticular focus on how they integrate their new skills with their devising abilities and theatrical training.  They are assessed on solo performances and group pieces.

AIRHEDZ: I run Airhedz as an Aerial Training provider, offering regular coaching in Aerial Yoga, Aerial Fabric (also known as Silks), Trapeze & Hoop. My aerial courses run in Whitstable and Faversham in Kent.

Canterbury Christ Church University: 3rd Year Dance Degree. I was invited to run the Repertoire Module in 2014 and return again in 2015, offering the students a taste of aerial dance for the first time in the degree's history.

Aerial Coach at the Circus Space for Paralympic Opening Ceremony:  I had a fabulous spring and summer of 2012 starting off as one of four full-time trainers working with the 'disabled aerialists' who would perform in the POC 2012.  Together with my colleagues we devised, implemented and developed specialist training for a diverse group of (predominantly) non-aerialists to get to a standard where they could enter the rehearsal phase of the POC.

RHUL: I taught on two first year modules, Contemporary Theatre Making and Boundaries of Performance in 2010/11 academic year.

University of Kent at Canterbury: Since completing my MA at UKC, I have been invited to teach on various courses including: Physical Theatre (stages 1 & 2); Popular Performance (focused on Circus); Explorations in Theatre Practice.  I have also been a visiting artist for specialist training in Applied Theatre and the final year students.

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