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Personal profile


Born in Adelaide, Australia, Hilary joined the University of Huddersfield in 2006 after a 12-year freelance career as a theatre and dance maker, performer, teacher and facilitator in both the UK and Australia. Hilary’s early training was in ballet and contemporary dance. She continued dancing whilst studying for her BA (Hons) in English and Drama which she received from the Australian National University, Canberra, in 1990. In 1992, Hilary was awarded Australia's highly-competitive Pilkington/Leeds University/Commonwealth Office Scholarship and she completed a Masters with Distinction at the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds, in 1993. She then directed, choreographed and performed in dozens of productions in small-scale touring, educational and community contexts in England and Australia. This included dancing with the Schools Company of the West Yorkshire Playhouse (The Waltz, 1994); serving as Artistic Director of the Bradford Women's Performance Project (1995-6); creating and performing work co-commissioned by the Yorkshire Dance Centre and Bradford Theatre in the Mill (The 18:12 To Tashkent,1996); serving as co-Artistic Director of Student Theatre at Monash University, Melbourne (1998-2000); directing regularly as an artist in schools for the Victorian Arts Centre and as visiting director at La Trobe and Monash Universities (1997-2004) and co-creating and co-performing original pieces of dance theatre (Quiddity Theatre,1998-2004). Whilst living and working in Melbourne, Hilary encountered improvisation as a performance form. Her immediate fascination with instant composition, particularly the interplay of moving and speaking, led her to study with Al Wunder, Andrew Morrish and Peter Trotman, renowned experts in the field of improvised performance. Between 1998 and 2004, Hilary performed regularly as an improviser, alongside choreographing and performing with Quiddity Theatre. From 2005, Hilary's performance and research concentrated on questions of operational principles, notions of space and place and the interaction of the senses in improvised solo and duet performances. This exploration took place as a series of Spontaneous Combustion events at the Universities of Huddersfield, Northampton, Salford and the National University of Mexico and in dance venues in Melbourne (Cecil Street Studios), Berlin (ADA Studios) and Stockholm (National Ballet Academy of Stockholm). She received her practice-led Doctorate in solo improvisation from the University of Huddersfield in 2013 after studying for 4 years alongside her role as Senior Lecturer in Dance, Theatre and Performance in the Drama Department. Hilary has an on-going Iyengar Yoga practice and continues to improvise, publish and present in a range of contexts. She is currently writing a book on the unique pedagogical strategies, creative approaches, philosophical principles and significant educational and artistic impact on the field of improvised movement theatre of Australian-based, American master teacher Al Wunder.

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Research Output

The Dancer, The Philosopher and The Tramp

Elliott, H., Apr 2019, The Oxford Handbook of Improvisation In Dance. Midgelow, V. L. (ed.). New York: Oxford University Press, p. 653-670 18 p. (Oxford Handbooks).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • The Motional Improvisation of Al Wunder

    Elliott, H., 15 Sep 2019, (Accepted/In press) Routledge.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • Open Access
  • Book review : Remaking Memory Autoethnography, memoir and the ethics of self

    Elliott, H., 1 Nov 2016, In : Performance Research. 21, 6, p. 138-139 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • Activities

    • 4 Oral presentation
    • 1 Participating in a conference, workshop, ...
    • 1 Invited talk

    Morton Feldman - Music for Dance and Film

    Philip Thomas (Participant), Hilary Elliott (Participant)
    18 Nov 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...

    Taking Sounds and Gestures for a Walk

    Hilary Elliott (Speaker)
    22 Jun 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    I CAN

    Hilary Elliott (Speaker)
    17 Jan 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


    Hilary Elliott (Speaker)
    6 Jul 2016

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    The Philosopher and The Dancer

    Hilary Elliott (Speaker)
    3 Oct 2015

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation