Somatic Movement, Costume and Performance

How does what we wear
affect how we move and perceive
and what we create and perform?


Over the last five years, I have been developing a teaching and performance methodology based on creating and using Somatic Costumes™ as part of my Somatic Movement, Costume and Performance Project. These Somatic Costumes™ are embedded with sensation and imagery – and are designed to create a specific ‘body-mind’ awareness. For example, in collaboration with costume designers, we created two proto-type somatic costumes for the head: the Balloon Hat to give the experience of the buoyancy and volume of the skull and the Pointy Hat to give an experience of the direction of the skull in space as a development of the spine as an axis. Somatic Costumes™ act in a similar way to ‘touch’ – becoming ‘portals of perception.’ Somatic Costumes™ have the possibility of changing our body image and body schema, affecting not only how we move and experience our bodies, others, and the environment, but also what we create and how we perform. A somatic costume becomes – metaphorically and functionally – the ‘teacher’ itself.
Costumes have been an under-utilized tool in somatic-based practices. The hope is to instigate new possibilities in this field and to create new bridges between somatic-based practice, costume design, performance, health, and culture.


Since 2011, Somatic Costumes™ are created and designed in collaboration with Sandra Arroniz Lacunza, and Carolina Rieckhof and more recently in 2014 with Marta Jiménez Salcedo (all visual artists and costume designers with an MA in Costume Design for Performance from the London College of Fashion). In Dec 2013, two other visual artists/costume designers (Christina Hardinge and Oliver Cronk) also participated in the project, collaborating on costumes for a Somatic Movement and Costume class. We also collaborated with amazing photographer Luna Pérez Visairas and dancers with somatic costumes in the natural environment in 2014.

To purchase Somatic Costumes™, please visit our Educational Tools page.

The initial research was supported in 2011 with a grant from the Rebecca Skelton Fund.

Current Publications

  • Dean, S.E. (forthcoming in 2017), ‘Following the Poetics of Somatic Experience: Encounters between SRT, Costume and Performance’, in Manny Elmslie (ed), Skinner Releasing Technique Emerging Narratives,Triarchy Press
  • Dean, S. E. (2016), ‘Where is the body in the costume design process?’, Studies
    in Costume & Performance, 1: 1, pp. 87–101. Download PDF here
  • 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 Download PDF here
  • Dean, S. E. (2014), ‘Somatic costumes™: Traversing multi-sensorial landscapes’, Scene 2: 1+2, pp. 81-87.  Download PDF here
  • 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. Download PDF here
  • Dean, S. E. (2011), ‘Somatic movement and costume: A practical, investigative project,’Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices 3: 1+2, pp. 167-182. Download PDF here

Artist Residencies, Presentations and Lecture Demonstrations

  • Lecture-demonstration at Oslo Academy of Arts: ‘The Touch of Costume: Somatic and Performative Interfaces’, Norway, September (2016)
  • Lecture-demonstration for MA Costume Design for Performance ‘Somatic Movement and Costume’ London College of Fashion, UK, February (2016)
  • Form in Question: ensemble-improvisation-performance, symposium at Tisch School of Arts, New York, January (2016). Presenting about the work of Suprapto (Amerta Movement), with reference to Sally’s Somatic Costumes. More event info here
  • Dance and Somatic Practices Conference: ‘Opening Skinner Releasing Technique and its Future – explicit and critical questions, reflections, and insights’ presentation and workshop, Coventry University, UK, July 2015. More info here
  • Critical Costume Conference: Flash Talk ‘Where is the body in the costume design process?’ and installation of ‘Sheddings from Something’s in the Living Room’, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland (2015) Download PDF of details Critical Costume Conference 2015
  • ImpulsTanz Festival: Workshop, Talk and Experiential Walk presenting ‘Somatic Costume’ as part of the
  • ‘IDOCDE teach me (not)! Symposium’, Vienna, Austria (2014). Please see workshop video here
  • Jazar Artist Residency, Pamplona, Spain (2014)
  • Dance and Somatic Practices Conference, Coventry University, UK (2013)
  • Dance Diary, Roehampton University, London (2013)
  • Somatic Practice and Dance/Movement Artist Retreat, Movement Sense CIC, Carmarthen, Wales (2013)
  • Movement qualities and physical models visualizations – Workshop Program, IRCAM – Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2012)
  • Middlesex Artist Residency and Symposium on Collaboration, London (2012)
  • Dance and Somatic Practices Conference, Coventry University, UK (2011)
  • Participatory Research & Learning in the Performing Arts – Symposium, Centre for Creative Collaboration, London (2011)




This research is supported by a grant from the Rebecca Skelton Fund. Past venues included: Coventry University (Dance & Somatic Practices Conference / Coventry / July 2011), Siobhan Davies Dance Studio (Stranger Than Fiction Improvisation Platform / London / May 2011), The Centre for Creative Collaboration (Participatory Research & Learning in the Performing Arts – Symposium / London / May 2011).