The Somatic Practice and Chronic Pain Network has a series of blog posts called “Meet our Board” where we will introduce members of the newly formed Board. The Network is keen to build a space that is respectful, safe, inclusive and active.
For the 2nd blog in the series, we have associate professor in Physical Performance at University of Leeds, Maria Kapsali. Maria’s work spans across performer training; yoga and somatics; philosophy of technology and sound and movement interaction.
Performer Training and Technology
Maria practices yoga and has an interest in how it supports training actors.
Maria’s book Performer Training and Technology: Preparing Our Selves (Routledge, 2021) explores the intersections between performer training and technology. The book is part of the Routledge Series Perspectives on Performer Training, which Maria co-edits with Dr. Rebecca Loukes, and was shortlisted for the David Bradby Monograph Award.
In 2017–2018 , Maria shared a Teaching Excellence Fellowship with Dr. Scott Palmer on Mobile Phones and Digital Creativity. An article discussing the use of mobile phones in performer training was published in the Digital Training special issue of the Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal.
Movement and Sound
In the last few years, Maria has been involved in sound and movement interaction technology, supported by a Catalyst Award, a Michael Beverley Innovation Fellowship, and an ESRC Healthy Ageing Catalyst Award.
Between 2014 and 2019, Maria co-developed (with technologist Simon East) a movement sonification app utilising mobile phones and smart watches called Sonolope. Broadly speaking, movement sonification refers to the production of sound through movement (e.g. when you move with the app, it creates a sounds). Sonolope is discussed in a recent publication in International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media called ‘Making the Body all Ears: Sonolope and a somatic practice of really listening.
echome is another accessible and affordable system that works with sensors and mobile phones which Maria co-created. It blends the experience of movement with the perception of sound. The system was co-developed with Kingsley Ash and Prof. Nikos Stavropoulos in collaboration with dance artist Sophie Alder and a range of different end users.
Technology, Health and Accessibility
Maria’s app Sonolope was used in the event Sonic Bodies (Being Human Festival, Leeds Art Gallery, November 2018), which aimed to offer opportunities to sighted and non-sighted audiences to engage in a multisensory exploration of sculpture.
She has recently worked on a pilot project which explored the use of echome for the communication of arthritis, ART-thritis (February-March 2022), designed and delivered with sports scientist Dr Antonis Stavropoulos-Kalinoglou and in collaboration with five patient participants living with arthritis.
Maria is now working with dance artist Sandrine Monin on the use of echome for making dance accessible to blind and visually impaired people.
Alongside Dr. Freya Bailes and Prof. Anna Madill, Maria is currently convening the Sadler Seminar Series ‘Sensory Storytelling, Imagination and Wellbeing’.
Hopes for the Network
As a board member, Maria’s hopes for the network are that it contributes towards ways of working in the arts and in academia that take the body and its needs into account and contribute towards its health and vitality.
She wishes for the network to change perceptions about what independence means and contributes to a culture shift where people are comfortable with giving their weight and caring for each other.
And at the time of writing this blog entry, Maria is reading books by Ursula Le Guin who wrote about magic and the possibility of alternative worlds.