About Us

Dr Sara HoustonDr Sara Houston
Sara Houston leads the Dance for Parkinson’s research project, as commissioned by English National Ballet (2010–2011; 2011-2014). In 2011, the BUPA Foundation awarded her its prestigious Vitality for Life Prize for the Dance for Parkinson’s research. Sara is Principal Lecturer in dance at University of Roehampton, London. She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2014.

Sara’s primary interest is in community dance, exploring the social and political contexts of people dancing.  She has undertaken dance research with adult male prisoners (in conjunction with Motionhouse Dance Theatre), within schools, residential care homes and within dance companies. As a research consultant she undertakes evaluations for community work by dance organisations, most recently for BalletBoyz.  In addition, Sara maintains an interest in the professional development of dance teachers and managers, and this has also been incorporated into the Dance for Parkinson’s study. She was awarded a research fellowship by University of Surrey, 2006–2008, for examining reflection as a tool for professional development for arts administrators and managers.

Sara trained at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance and her PhD, awarded by Roehampton in 2002, examined the relationships between community dance and New Labour discourse. Sara acts as a reviewer for peer reviewed journals, books and for grant giving bodies and is a member of the Peer Review College of the AHRC. She sits on the Advisory Board for Queensland Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme and is education and research consultant for Dance for Health and Parkinson, The Netherlands. She is an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Public Health. Sara is Chair of the Board of Trustees and Directors of People Dancing and chairs the steering group of the Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK.

“I find the Dance for Parkinson’s study a very rich project to work on as there are so many different facets to it. It is great to spend time on a project and with the same people over a number of years. This makes it very rewarding.”

twitter: @SaraPMHouston

Dr Ashley McGillAshley McGill
Ashley is a Senior Lecturer in dance at Roehampton University. She is completed her PhD research in 2016 using the Dance for Parkinson’s programme: ‘Living with Parkinsonism: does dance help improve the quality of movement, functions and everyday activities?’

Ashley began dancing at an early age and trained in the RAD syllabus before going to the University of Calgary for her BA (Hons) degree in dance with a major in ballet. She danced and performed with a variety of Canadian dance schools before coming to London, England to study her Master’s degree in Dance Science at Trinity Laban.

Since graduating she has presented her research at three annual conferences held by the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and continues to publish work on her PhD research looking into the effects of dance for people with Parkinson’s. Ashley teaches dance science theory, Pilates, and ballet at University of Roehampton.

“As a dance science researcher I have been able to investigate how dance may help those with Parkinson’s cope better with their symptoms and further understand what it is about dance that is unique in comparison to other forms of physical activity. This has been a wonderful and challenging opportunity for me, however, it is really the research participants that have made this such a special and inspirational project to be a part of as it is their positive outlook and fighting spirit that keeps us reaching for more.”

Prof Raymond Lee
Professor Raymond Lee holds a Chair in Biomechanics at London South Bank University and previously at University of Roehampton. In 1989, he won the British Council Fellowship to complete his PhD degree in Bioengineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He was also awarded the Association of Commonwealth Universities Development Fellowship, which supported his research work at King’s College London.

Professor Lee has held various academic positions in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia over the last two decades, including a Professorship at University of Brighton. He has been regularly invited to act as referee for national and international research funding bodies. He has served as a panel member of the Research Sub-Committee of Arthritis Research UK, and the Foundation of Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia), which is the main funding agency for research in Portugal.

Professor Lee has a keen research interest in the biomechanics of the trunk and translating the findings of his research into clinical practice. In particular, he is interested in studying how interventions such as dance may influence the quality of trunk motions and movement strategies which are compromised in people with Parkinson’s disease, and how such influence may be related to improvement in functional ability and quality of life.

“I am extremely delighted to be involved in this multidisciplinary project related to dance for Parkinson’s.”

Cameron Donald
Cameron Donald was a Senior in Health and Human Biology at Brown University, USA, when he joined the Dance for Parkinson’s project as a summer intern on a Royce Fellowship.  Cameron graduated in 2016 from the prestigious Narrative Medicine program at Columbia University, USA. He is now starting his medical studies at UCSF.  Cameron worked for Columbia to promote the health needs of the LGBT community at the University. Whist at Brown University, he worked for Artists and Scientists as Partners (ASaP), an organization housed at Brown University that facilitates educational programs on the topic of arts and health. In this organisation he worked with both medical and arts practitioners to foster creative, integrative health practices.

Cameron has a keen interest in modern dance and was a member of Brown’s departmental modern repertory company Dance Extension, co-directing and performing for the student-run company Fusion. After graduating from Columbia, he is hoping to train to become a primary care physician.  He received Brown’s Weston Award for his work in dance.

twitter: @camerondonald2

Katherine Watkins
Katherine is a Physiotherapist at the Royal Ballet School based in White Lodge in Richmond Park. This follows her recent work as the Lead Physiotherapist and Health Services Co-ordinator for Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has worked as the Physiotherapist for the Royal Academy of Dance, where she was also a Distance Learning Tutor and Module Co-ordinator for the Certificate of Ballet Teaching Studies (CBTS).

Katherine is the Dance Physiotherapy representative for the ACPSEM (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports and Exercise Medicine). She is an active member of the Physiotherapy Advisory Group for Dance UK and is listed on their physiotherapy practitioners’ register. An MSc supervisor on the Trinity Laban Dance Science MSc course, Katherine is also Guest Lecturer for the BAPAM MSc in Performing Arts Medicine at UCL and as such is an honorary lecturer at UCL.