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Sophia Preston

Sophia Preston

Course Director, Dance

School of Creative Arts
University of Ulster
Northland Road

Londonderry BT48 7JL
Work: (028) 716-75209


Course Director


Sophia’s first degree was in Music (from York University) and she has worked as a professional bass player on and off for 30 years, playing in contemporary-chamber-music ensembles, symphony orchestras and for dance companies such as Rambert and London Contemporary Dance Theatre (LCDT).  Sophia studied ballet as a child but it was only when (on a long tour) the LCDT dancers decided “to teach the musos how to dance” that she got hooked and started taking modules at her local college in York.


In 1989 Sophia gained an MA in Dance Studies with Distinction from the University of Surrey, followed by a PhD (on the analysis of dance/music relationships in the work of Siobhan Davies) in 1995.  From 1989-1992 Sophia lived in York teaching both Open Dance Classes and on modules at the University College of Ripon and York St John.  She also choreographed and performed (dance and music – though not necessarily at the same time!) in a professional duet Equal Parts with dancer Chris Hill, that toured the UK, performing at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.


In 1992 Sophia became a full-time lecturer at the University of Surrey, teaching at Undergraduate, Masters and Doctorate level.  She was MA course Director in 1996 and BA Course Director from 1997-2000.


From 2000 to 2004 Sophia lived in Denmark where she combined lecturing in Dance at the University of Copenhagen and the Modern Dance Conservatoire, with playing the bass in the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra.


In 2005 Sophia moved to Northern Ireland to take up a position as BA Course Director for Dance on the newly-formed Dance degree programme at the University of Ulster.  She continues to combine making music (singing in the University Choir and escaping to England to play big symphonies with friends whenever she can) with her proper job of Dance teaching, administration and research.


Sophia’s research focus continues to be on relationships between dance and music and what they can tell us about a dance.  She has been analysing works by choreographers as varied as Siobhan Davies and Pina Bausch but for the last decade she has been increasingly focussing on the work of Mark Morris.  Sophia has presented her research at international conferences in the USA, Denmark and the UK and she has had articles published in Dance Chronicle and the conference proceedings of the Society of Dance History Scholars (1996, 1998, 2000 and 2008).


Sophia teaches primarily the theoretical aspects of the Dance programme here at the University of Ulster – although she also takes the weekly ballet class.  She is module co-ordinator for both Historical Contexts modules, both Cultural Contexts modules and the two final-year research modules as well as for one choreography module in each year.


Sophia teaches an Open Class on Monday evenings and continues to choreograph (on students) and to play the bass, the cello and the piano whenever she can.  She lives at the northern tip of the Inishowen peninsula and whenever she is home in daylight hours is likely to be found swimming in the sea.



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