Theatre, Dance and Performance Training

Volume 10, 2019 – Issue 1

Embodied correspondences with the material world: Marcel Jousse’s ‘laboratory of the self’ as a force for creative practice in performer training by Ellie Nixon.

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My research pioneers an innovative devising model, offering new understandings in the fields of contemporary performance practice and performer training. Drawing on Jacques Lecoq’s pedagogy of the ‘poetic body’, the writings of French philosopher Gaston Bachelard on the ‘poetics of imagination’ and the French anthropologist Marcel Jousse, I propose an interdisciplinary ‘embodied poetics’ for the actor-creator.

Bachelard, identifies the material elements of earth, air, fire and water as conductors of human imagination, ‘poeticising substances’ that guide our orientation to the world around us. My artistic practice and research interrogate this assertion by exploring the dynamic relationship between the human body, the environment and the imagination as a force for making new live and digital performance. This original and empowering approach offers infinite possibilities for a permanent renewal, expansion and transformation of practice.

The Poetics of Fire – Chile 2006

More recently, I’m looking at how this embodied model of creative practice can raise awareness of the challenges faced by communities living in volatile environments. Performance outputs aim to highlight the pivotal role of human experience in tackling escalating environmental challenges and negotiatiating more life-sustaining relations with the natural world.

Scoping research project for ‘Moving Rock’ Haytor, Dartmoor, 2017.
Funded by Bath Spa University.

Professional Qualifications

  • PhD, Performance Practice, University of Exeter
  • PGCE, Arts University Bournemouth
  • The Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School, 1987 – 1989
  • BA (Hons) Performance Arts, Middlesex University


Scoping research project ‘Moving Rock’ Haytor, Dartmoor, 2017.
Funded by Bath Spa University.





Membership of Professional Bodies/Subject Associations

Editorial Assistant:


Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Blog

‘Trying to Reach the Sea’ 2016, University of Exeter.

Research/Practice – Recent Activity

(2018) Moving Rock, Embodied Correspondences with the Material World as a Force for Performance-Making, presentation at Performing Mountains Symposium, Leeds.

(2017) Moving Rock, interdisciplinary collaborative research project funded by HEQR Seed Funding, Bath Spa University and Kingston University.

(2017) Embodied Poetics: The Poetics of the Imagination in Devising Practices, paper presented at the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) Conference, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Funded by Bath Spa University and BSU Research Centre for Environmental Humanities (RCEH).

(2017) Sourcing From Within, practice-led presentation for Knowing From the Inside: Anthropology, Art, Architecture and Design (KFI), a 5-year project funded by a European Research Council – principle investigator: Professor Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen. Funded by University of Aberdeen and Bath Spa University.

(2018) Developing a project with Dr Rebecca Loukes to co-edit publication on Women and Performer Training.


Nixon, E (2019) Forthcoming: The Imagining Body in Performer Training Jacques Lecoq and Gaston Bachelard as part of a Routledge series co-edited by Rebecca Loukes and Maria Kapsali titled, Perspectives on Performer Training.

Nixon, E (2017) La Mancha Theatre Company and School – Chile: An Enactive Paradigm, In: Evans, M., Kemp, R. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq, Routledge.

Nixon, E (2014) The Threepenny Opera: Experiencing Intersections Bertolt Brecht and Jacques Lecoq, paper presented at Intersections: Colloquium of Performance Research, Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD).

Nixon, E (2013) Processes of Transmission: A Laboratory of the Self, paper presented at The Performer Training Working Group, Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, University of Glasgow.

Nixon, E (2011) Practice as Research: Models and Problems, paper presented at the Pre-Sessional Research Seminar, University of Exeter.

Nixon, E (2009) Vivien Leigh: The Actress, presented at the Vivien Leigh Symposium hosted by University of Exeter and Topsham Museum.

Nixon, E (2007) Risk-Taking and its Implications for an Acting Course: A Pedagogical Approach, paper presented at the Learning and Teaching Conference, Arts Institute at Bournemouth.

Nixon, E (2006) Guest panel member: Research Strategy Committee. Kingston University, Tate Gallery.

Nixon, E (2002) Shakespeare a Dos Tiempos. Six-week residency: Centro Nacional de las Artes – CENART, Mexico.

Directing in the UK

2013: The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, Music by Kurt Weil. Collaboration with KOKORO, the Contemporary Music ensemble of The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Lighthouse, Poole.  Pre-viewed and reviewed in The Bournemouth Echo. Funded by AUB, BSO and Arts Council.

2011: Ship of Fools – directed and co-devised. 25 Clowns. Ocean Theatre, Pavilion Dance South West. Funded by the AUCB. Reviewed in Scene1 Online and Blackmore Vale Magazine. Pre-viewed and reviewed in The Bournemouth Echo.

2010: Dracula by Bram Stoker – directed and co-devised. The Lighthouse, Poole. Funded by AUB and OXFAM. Reviewed by Blackmore Vale Magazine.

2009: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By Horace McCoy. The Pavilion Ballroom, The Pavilion, Bournemouth. Reviewed in The Bournemouth Echo and Blackmore Vale Magazine.


2005/6: Yves Klein – Architectura del Aire. National Tour of Chile. Funded by La Mancha and The Chilean National School of Architecture. 3,000 spectators. Reviewed in El Mercurio and La Tercera. Reports/ interview on national news: TVN, CV, Megavision.

2004: Alturas de Macchu Picchu. National tour of Chile. Supported by The Pablo Neruda Foundation. Funded by La Corporación Nacional de Chile (CODELCO) and The Pre-Columbian Museum, Chile. 7,000 spectators. Report and interview on national news: TVN, CV and Megavision.

2002: Shakespeare a Dos Tiempos. National Tour of Chile and Mexico City. Funded by The Chilean Government and The British Council. 5,000 spectators. Reviewed in El Mercurio, La Tercera and La Segunda. Report and interview on national news: TVN, CV, Canal 13 and Mega.

2000: Cara de Hereje. National Tour of Chile and International Festival of Theatre Cuba. Funded by The Chilean Government. 6,000 spectators. Reviewed in El Mercurio, La Tercera and La Segunda. Reports and interviews on national news: TVN, CV and Megavision. and Cuban press.

1998: Le Puede Pasar a Cualquiera. National tour of Chile, funded by Chilean Government. 7,000 spectators. Reviewed in El Mercurio, La Tercera and La Segunda. Reports and interviews on national news: TVN, CV.

1997: La Mancha appeared in the documentary: La Memoria Obstinada by Patricio Guzmán.

1997: Big Bang. National tour of Chile. Funded by Chilean Government. 3,000 spectators. Reports and interviews on national news: TVN, Canal 13 and reviewed in El Mercurio and La Tercera.

1996: La Mancha Theatre Company featured in Punto Rojo, a film by Alberto Daiber.

1994: Parranda. National tour of Chile and Costa Rica. Funded by the Norwegian Embassy and The Chilean Government. 22,000 spectators. Reports and interviews on National news: Canal 13, TVN, CV and Costa Rican TV. Reviewed by El Mercurio, La Tercera and Costa Rican press. Report on El Show de los Libros by Antonio Skarmeta.

1993: Matando el Tiempo. National Tour of Chile. Funded by The Norwegian Government. 4,000 spectators. Reports and interviews: National News Canal 13, Megavision and CONTACTO.

1991: Doing Time. The Black Box Theatre, Oslo, Norway. Funded by Norsk Kassettavgiftsfond. 2,000 spectators. Reviewed in Norwegian press: Dagbladet and national TV: NRK

1990: I Manesjen. Circus performance touring Oslo and national venues. Funded by Norsk Kassettavgiftsfond. 3,000 spectators. Reviewed in Norwegian press: Dagbladet.

1989: Five Alive. Black Box Theatre. Oslo. 2,000 spectators. Reviewed in Dagbladet.