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Dance lecturer obtains doctorate

by Gerrit Bester

Committed Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) academic and consummate performing artist Nicola Haskins obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Pretoria on 5 September. Dr Haskins, who is a lecturer in the Dance stream of the Department of Performing Arts, Faculty of Arts and Design, shares her journey towards obtaining this new title.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CAREER SO FAR. I’m an embodied moving researcher, choreographer, educator and dancer who has performed nationally and internationally over the last twenty years. Currently, I’m a full-time lecturer at TUT in the Performing Arts, Dance stream.

I have won three Standard Bank Ovation Awards and a Gold Ovation Award for my company’s production, The Anatomy of Weather. I’m committed to teaching and learning practices, specifically choreographic practice and how new approaches and methods can be implemented.

WHAT IS THE TITLE OF YOUR PhD DISSERTATION AND WHO WAS YOUR SUPERVISOR/S? Decolonial Storying: Embodied memory in facilitating choreographic composition. My supervisor was Prof Marie-Heleen Coetzee and co-supervisor, was Prof Mart Munro.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT ON THIS JOURNEY TO SELECT THE RIGHT SUPERVISOR/S AND HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM? My supervisors were outstanding and having a good relationship with them was vital to my success.

SHORTLY EXPLAIN THE MAJOR FINDINGS/DISCOVERIES MADE AS PART OF YOUR STUDY AND HOW THEY CONTRIBUTE TO THE CURRENT BODY OF KNOWLEDGE IN THIS FIELD. In my thesis, I argued that teaching and learning strategies for movement creation in choreographic composition that access autobiographical memory, specifically embodied memories, actively engage students’ identities, lived experiences, socio-cultural contexts and ontological positions. My findings demonstrate that such teaching and learning strategies can contribute to shifting the historical locus of enunciation in choreographic compositional curricula and contribute to decolonising such curricula.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FELLOW STAFF MEMBERS WHO ARE BUSY WITH THEIR DOCTORAL STUDIES OR ARE CONTEMPLATING SUCH STUDIES? The key to completing doctoral studies, in my opinion, is to be consistent and work hard as well as choosing the correct supervisors.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESEARCH INTERESTS? My research interests centre around embodied inquiry, Laban movement analysis, teaching and learning, curricula and decolonial strategies, amongst others.

HOW WILL YOU ENCOURAGE A CURRENT STUDENT TO PURSUE POSTGRADUATE STUDIES? By assisting them in how to conduct research and allowing them to discover the benefits of furthering their studies.

AS A CONSUMMATE DANCER, TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT SOME OF THE MEMORABLE PRODUCTIONS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN. I performed internationally in Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake for ten years in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS ACADEMICALLY AT THIS STAGE OF YOUR CAREER? I’m looking forward to graduating as a CMA, a certified movement analyst from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York soon.

Dr Nicola Haskins, lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts (Dance), celebrates her new title shortly after she obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Pretoria.


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