I am a performance artist and researcher interested in the relationship between public urban spaces, gender and play. My practice is influenced by my history of involvement in the urban activity of skateboarding.
Recognising the embodied ways that we experience and understand space, power and interactions, my work is concerned with finding ways to access knowledge contained within specific situated practices.
These interests form the foundation of my work as a lecturer in performance here at Hallam, through my contribution to the following specialist areas: site-specific performance, live art, gendered performance, movement improvisation, strategies for devising, and practice-as-research.
My earliest experience of a performance practice began in my adolescence and through an interest I developed in skateboarding. This playful urban activity enabled me to explore a range of bodily comportment, to engage in a form of improvisation with objects in the street and architecture, and to become an urban explorer, visiting a range of different cities and towns. I developed a strong connection with urban environments and spent many hours dwelling, playing and flowing with the architecture and street furniture of the UK built environment.
These interests in movement, improvisation, site-specificity, urban space and play have developed through my on-going study of performance art and theory, and theories contributing to a multi-disciplinary discourse around play, gender, and urban space.
Following a degree in drama and a Master’s degree in performance, I found myself in a suitable critical space within which to examine the years I had devoted to being ‘skateboarder’. This led to my practice-as-research PhD, which was titled: ‘Are You Known To Us: Inscribing a Gendered Body in the Public Built Environment’.
I completed my PhD with Plymouth University on a part-time basis alongside my work as a lecturer at the University of Chester and, later on, during my first few years teaching at Sheffield Hallam University. I consider my research practice and my teaching responsibilities as being symbiotically related to each other, and as both my research and teaching practices develop I am fascinated by the ways they connect, intersect and support one another.
Specialist areas of interest
Stage and Screen
Performance for Stage and Screen, Performance and Professional Practice
In Situ: Body, Space and Performance
Approaches to Research
Performance Spaces and Places
Current research projects
Outward Expressions: Movement, Creation and Global Connections (November 2015 – on-going), a research project in development, which will be based in Palestine and conducted through the practices of a collective of urban performance/artists.
SkatePAL and Play in Palestine (September – October 2015), CCRC funded research project
Selected research projects
Accumulations (July 2015 – August 2016) Arts Council England funded project in collaboration with three other movement and dance artists
Abulhawa, D. (2020). (Re)Positioning Site Dance. NEW THEATRE QUARTERLY, 36 (4), 385. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0266464X20000706
Abulhawa, D. (2017). Smoothing space in Palestine: Building a skatepark and a socio-political forum with the SkatePal charity. Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 4 (3), 417-426. http://doi.org/10.1386/jucs.4.3.417_1
Abulhawa, D. (2016). Knowledgeable artefacts: the role of performance documentation in PaR. Networking Knowledge, 9 (3). http://ojs.meccsa.org.uk/index.php/netknow/article/view/438
Abulhawa, D. (2008). Female skateboarding : re-writing gender. Platform : Postgraduate eJournal of Theatre and Performing Arts, 3 (1), 56-72. http://www.rhul.ac.uk/dramaandtheatre/platform/issues/vol3-no1-spring2008.aspx
Spies, S., & Abulhawa, D. (2017). (En)gendering "Undisciplined" Space: reflections on Precarious Assembly. In Ashton, J. (Ed.) Feminism & Museums : Intervention, Disruption and Change. (pp. 368-383). Edinburgh: MuseumsEtc: https://museumsetc.com/products/feminism-and-museums
Abulhawa, D. (2015). Locating rhythms : improvised play in the built environment. In MacLean, M., Russell, W., & Ryall, E. (Eds.) Philosophical Perspectives on Play. (pp. 136-151). Abingdon: Routledge: http://doi.org/10.4324/9781315732213
Abulhawa, D. (2020). Skateboarding and femininity: Gender, space-making and expressive movement. http://doi.org/10.4324/9781003025740
Politics of voyeurism in relation to female-gendered performers in live entertainment.
I am a performance artist and academic exploring the relationship between gender, play and the public built environment.