The stage is set! Discover the Department of Performing Arts

The Department of Performing Arts is based at our Kingsway Campus, Chester. The Department has a number of courses spanning the breadth of performing arts disciplines, including Drama and Theatre Studies, Dance, Music, Popular Music Performance and Performing Arts.

While you are considering your options, we’ve picked out some interesting stories from around the Department of Performing Arts.

Don’t forget that you can visit us and see the Department for yourself.

Book your visit


The Kingsway Solstice

The Kingsway Solstice

The Department of Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Media at the University Of Chester, had an exciting week of performance, open rehearsals, and festive and seasonal surprises in December.

The Kingsway Solstice started on Saturday 12th December with an acoustic set, and closed on Friday 18th December with live music from bands performing at a local music venue in Chester. Over the week, in addition to live music, there was a number of devised and immersive theatrical and dance performances, designed to involve and engage the audience.

The Kingsway Solstice is designed for all those who enjoy being creative in performance, whether that’s through Dance, Drama or Music. It aims to inspire students to energise and share these beautiful spaces, and to celebrate performance practices during the festive season.

As a Department, we passionately encourage, support and inspire students with their aspirations to pursue a career within the creative industries, and aim to utilise the wealth of industry experience amongst our staff to help benefit your experience. A specific Career Day, designed to enhance students’ knowledge in pursuing a career within the creative industries, was also available during the week, and aimed to provide students with the opportunity to gain additional skills and network.

Performance weeks are a fantastic way to provide students with unique workshops, develop skills relevant to their practice and enhance networking skills, and we’re already planning our next performance week.  

Pulse Week usually takes place in Spring, and proudly presents an incredible series of master classes and workshops led by some of the music industry’s most respected and talented artists. It aims to demystify the grey areas that young musicians face, helping them to break into the industry and develop sustainable, professional careers.

Find out which artists we had in 2015, and pictures from Pulse Week, on our website.


“Earn your red nose” for clowning around


graduated from clown school today ooo #clown #drama #degree

A photo posted by @ohheyitslucy on

We recently had a very special winter graduation at the Kingsway Campus….a Red Nose Graduation, in order to acknowledge the creative journey, courage and determination of this year’s most recent cohort of clown trainees.  

As part of the module 'Movement and Voice' in Year 2, Drama and Theatre Studies students engage with approaches to physical comedy such as Commedia dell'Arte (an Italian Renaissance form of street performance), and French approaches to clowning and comedy.  

A vigorous training process is then undertaken to “earn your red nose”. Students must go through a series of tasks and exercises where, under extreme pressure to laugh, they must keep a straight face.  When they have made it through this part of the training, they are considered worthy to wear the smallest mask in the theatre: the red nose.  

Each graduate must display the prowess associated with the art of the clown: innocence, vulnerability, audience interaction and a sense of devilment. During the ceremony, students were invited to the stage to collect their very own red nose from a “Clown Professor”.

In all, there were 27 graduates in the winter graduation, and we’re looking forward to the next graduation of our clown trainees in Spring 2016.  


Chester Students embrace Performance Technology 

Performing Arts

As technology continues to advance and new methods of story telling appear, the use of performance technology has become increasingly popular. By embracing modern technology, directors and performers can create a sense of spectacle and capture the emotional and sensorial impact of a performance in new and unforgettable ways.

This use of technology as an integral part of performance, is a unique element of the Performing Arts course at the University of Chester. From the start, students are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to explore and utilize this cutting-edge performance technique. Through an understanding of the interactive performance and design software Isadora, they have created unique live performances by controlling lighting, sound and video through the actions and movements of the performers on stage.

By using performance technology, students have created immersive environments for their performances, inviting the audience to not only explore the performance space, but to interact with it. Past students have creating a live video game which the audience were encouraged to ‘play’ through the use of a Wiimote. Others have made an ‘escape the room’ type game, where the audience members had to work together and interact with the projection screen in order to find the combination to the lock and ‘escape the room.’

Those more interested in live music, have had the opportunity to explore the VJ set up which plays on stage behind a band for a music gig. By incorporating lighting and visuals to play in time with, and react to, the music performance on stage, students have created unforgettable live art for various audiences; a skill that is much sought after in this ever growing industry.

You can find out more about Performance Technology and the other modules on the course on the Performing Arts course page. 


Borrow performance and recording equipment….for FREE!!

Borrowing Equipment

It’s true, at our Kingsway Campus, if you need to borrow performance or recording equipment, all you need is your student card – and it’s yours to use…for FREE!

Staff involved in teaching on our Music and Popular Music Performance course are active musicians, engineers, composers and/or performers, and passionately encourage, support and inspire students with their aspirations to pursue a career within the music industry. Which is why we actively provide students with the range and access to a variety of performance or recording equipment, because we know how important it is to enhance your skills and performance experience.

You will have access to professional and industry standard facilities, and the opportunity to book out specific performance spaces and equipment throughout the week and weekend. We also have a team of technicians available on site, to further support your studies and performance practice – so when it comes to performing, you’ll have all the support you need to get things up and running.  


Be inspired by industry active staff: Manny Emslie 


When considering where you should study your degree, it’s important not only to consider the content of the course, but also who will be teaching it. How your lessons are taught, and who presents them plays a significant role in the way you learn.

In the Department of Performing Arts, our students benefit from being taught by passionate and professional, industry active staff. From successful theatre directors, innovative choreographers and dance performers, and headlining musicians, staff come from an array of creative backgrounds and have an abundance of first-hand knowledge to inspire, advise and guide students to succeed in this competitive industry.

Furthermore, having worked with nationally and internationally renowned artists, they have a number of professional contacts at their disposal, meaning you could have the opportunity to watch performances, undertake workshops, and even collaborate with professionals in the field.                         

BA Dance: Manny Emslie

Students studying on our BA in Dance are fortunate enough to be taught by Senior Lecturer Manny Emslie; one of a small number of certified Skinner Releasing Technique teachers in the United Kingdom and a facilitator and practitioner of Mindfulness Practice.

A solo performer and dance maker, Manny has years of professional experience under her belt. Following collaborations with both photographers and media makers, her work has been shown in various venues across the UK and beyond. She has also co-founded her own experimental dance company, worked with an array of renowned dance artists across the globe, published a number of successful scholarly articles and presented at intentional conferences.

She is currently collaborating with South African/UK dance artist Sarah Spies (who is a part-time lecturer at the University of Chester) and Norwegian dance artist Iseline Brogeland; their work will be performed and toured in late 2016 and 2017. Manny is also currently editing a book titled Skinner Releasing Technique Emerging Narratives, due to be published in Spring 2017. 

Having studied extensively with Joan Skinner and her faculty in Seattle (USA), and at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice in Wales, her teaching practice focuses on somatic movement practice/approaches, dance improvisation, dance making and performing, and mindful movement; all of which she has taught to professional artists, dancers  and the wider community.

To find out more about the staff in the Department of Performing Arts take a look at our Staff Profiles.


Keep in Touch

Keep up to date about events in the Department by following us on Twitter: @UCArts or Facebook: Why not come and visit us and see our facilities for yourselves. 

Book your visit

Visit us

If you would like to find out more about this course and see what it is like to study and live at the University of Chester, take the opportunity to visit us. And if you have any questions about your visit, we’ll be happy to help.

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