Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn is a Reader and Postgraduate Research Degree Leader in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of East London (UK). Sarahleigh is a performer, choreographer, and researcher: a dance nerd. She has performed in, and choreographed, performance works, for example at JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival (South Africa), The Playhouse (South Africa), and the National Arts Festival (South Africa). She has authored chapters in Viral Dramaturgies (2018) and Narratives in Black British Dance (2018), as well as articles in journals such as the African Performance Review, Dance Theatre Journal, Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies, Animated, and the South African Theatre Journal. She sits on the steering committee of JOMBA! MASIHAMBISANE, and on editorial boards such as HOTFOOT and Research in Dance Education.
Her latest book Contemporary Dance in South Africa: The Toyi-Toying Body, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2023) explores when and how, and to what effect, the body in South African contemporary dance protests, subverts, or represents a site of the struggle against oppressive forces of power. Sarahleigh’s current research focuses on the representation of madness in dance, specifically with a practice research focus drawing on her on lived experience of Bipolar Disorder, chronic disease and neurodiversity. Although dance studies has started to address and embed an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-xenophobic, and decolonial practice, it still needs to further its work on disability activism.