University of Calgary

Pil Hansen

  • Professor

Research Interests


Currently Teaching


Dr. Pil Hansen is Professor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts where she teaches dramaturgy, performing arts management, Performance Generating Systems (improvisation), and research methods across the disciplines of drama, dance, and music.

Hansen is General Editor of the Routledge book series Expanded Dramaturgy and Associate Editor of the journal Frontiers in Psychology, Performance Science. Hansen also chairs the Dramaturgy and Performance working group at Performance Studies international.

She earned her PhD on Dramaturgy and Perception from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2007 and joined SCPA in 2015 from the University of Toronto, where she completed a SSHRC-postdoc and held a position at the rank of Assistant Professor.

Hansen’s primary research fields are performing arts psychology and dramaturgy. Through both practice-based and empirical research, Hansen currently examines and develops strenths-based dramaturgies of accessibility. Her past research has focussed on understanding processes of memory, learning, and social connection in the performing arts. Interdisciplinary research methodology and ethics are Hansen's secondary fields of expertise.

Her research results have been published in the journals Frontiers in Psychology, Connection Science, TDR: The Drama Review, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Performance Research, Performance Matters, Peripeti, Theater Topics, Canadian Theatre Review, and Koreografisk Journal along with a series of essay collections and readers.

Hansen is the author of the monograph Performance Generating Systems in Dance: Dramaturgy, Psychology, and Performativity (2022) and primary editor of two international essay collections Dance Dramaturgy: Modes of Agency, Awareness, and Engagement (2015) and Performing the Remembered Present: The Cognition of Memory in Dance, Theatre and Music (2017).

Hansen is a founding member of Vertical City Performance and has worked as Dramaturg and General Manager of Scandinavian and Canadian dance, devising, and interarts companies since 2000.


Current research projects

1.  "Aging Dancers: Artistic, Physical, and Mental Praxes": in development.

I have completed and published a UCalgary-funded pilot in collaboration with Sarah Kenny (dance science) and am developing this study of the demands, strengths, and strategies of mature professional dancers above 60 years in age.

2. "Networked and neurodiverse strategies for teaching performance creation online": ongoing.

In collaboration with Emma Climie (ADHD Clinique) and with funding from the Taylor Institute, I am developing pedagogical strategies and tools for teaching creation online. The team is taking point of departure in the strengths of individuals with ADHD and in networked creation approaches, both because such strengths may provide solutions for some of the challenges that experiential teaching models come up against online and because students with ADHD encounter barriers in neurotypical online learning environments that need to be addressed



Books and Journal Issues 

1. Hansen, Pil. Performance-generating Systems in Dance: Dramaturgy, Psychology, and Performativity (Intellect, 2022).

2. Hansen, Pil and Freya Vass, eds. 2021. Performance Research on Perception 26.3.

3. Esling, Natalia, Megan Andrews, Bruce Barton, and Pil Hansen. 2021. GPS: Global Performance Studies on Elasticity 4.1.

4. Jola, Corinne and Pil Hansen, eds. 2020. Frontiers in Psychology research topic on Performance in Theatre and Everyday Life: Cognitive, Neuronal, and Applied Aspects of Acting.

5. Hansen, Pil and Bettina Bläsing, eds. 2017. Performing the Remembered Present: The Cognition of Memory in Dance, Theatre and Music. London: Bloomsbury Methuen.

6. Hansen, Pil and Darcey Callison, eds. 2015. Dance Dramaturgy: Modes of Agency, Awareness, and Engagement. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

7. Hansen, Pil with Darcey Callison and Bruce Barton, eds. 2013. Canadian Theatre Review (CTR) on Dance and Movement Dramaturgy 155.

8. Hansen, Pil and Bruce Barton, eds. 2011. CTR on Memory 145.

Chapters and Articles (peer reviewed, 'blind' and transparent)

9. Hansen, Pil and Freya Vass. 2021. “Editorial: On Perception.” Performance Research 26.2: 1-8.

10. Jola, Corinne and Pil Hansen. 2021. "Editorial: Performance in Theatre and Everyday Life: Cognitive, Neuronal, and Applied Aspects of Acting." Frontiers in Psychology 12: article #732233.

11. Hansen, Pil, Caitlin Main, and Liza Hartling. 2021. "Dance Intervention Affects Social Connections and Body Appreciation Among Older Adults in the Long Term Despite Covid-19 Social Isolation: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study." Frontiers in Psychology 12: article #685938.

12. Hansen, Pil, Emma A. Climie, and Robert J. Oxoby. 2020. “The Demands of Performance Generating Systems on Executive Functions: Effects and Mediating Processes.” Frontiers in Psychology 11: article #1894, 1-12.

13. Hansen, Pil and Sarah Kenny. 2019. ”Physical and Mental Demands Experienced by Aging Dancers: Strategies and Values.Performance Research 23.7 on Ageing: 24-31.

14. Hansen, Pil. 2018a. “Interdisciplinary Research Strategies: Working Across Artistic Research and Dance Scholarship, Dance    Psychology, or Dance Science.” Researching (in/as) Motion: A Resource Collection, Artistic Doctorates in Europe. Eds. Bacon, J., Hilton, R., Kramer, P., and Midgelow, V. Helsinki: Nivel, University of Helsinki. 

15. Hansen, Pil. 2018b. “Minding Implicit Constraints in Dance Improvisation.” Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance and Cognition. Ed. Bruce McConachie and Rick Kemp. London: Routledge. 75-82.

16. Hansen, Pil. 2018c. “Dance Dramaturgical Agency.” Contemporary Choreography. 2nd Edition. Ed. Jo Butterworth and Liesbeth Wildschut. London: Routledge. 187-202.

17. Hansen Pil and Robert Oxoby. 2018. “An Earned Presence: Studying the Effect of Multi-task Improvisation Systems on Cognitive Learning Capacity.” Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance. Eds. Experience Bryon, J. Mark Bishop, Deirdre McLaughlin, and Jess Kaufman. Routledge.

18. Bruce Barton with Pil Hansen. 2017. “Risking Intimacy: Strategies of Vulnerability in Vertical City’s All Good Things and Trace.Risk, Participation, and Performance Practice. Ed. Alice O’Grady. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 131-152.

19. Hansen, Pil with Christopher House. 2017. “Hay w wykonaniu House'a. Ocena zasad kreacji i wymagań kognitywnych systemów performatywnych.” (The Notation and Cognition of Performance Generating Systems: Hay through House.) Strategie Choreograficzne. (Choreographic Strategies.) Transl. Anna Lewoc., ed. Tomasz Ciesielski and Mariusz Bartosiak. Lodz: Lodz University Press. 75-90.

20. Hansen Pil and Bettina Blaesing. 2017. “Introduction: Studying the Cognition of Memory in the Performing Arts.” Performing the Remembered Present: The Cognition of Memory in Dance, Theatre and Music. Ed. Pil Hansen and Bettina Blaesing. London: Methuen. 1-35. 

21. Hansen, Pil. 2017b. “Research-Based Practice: Facilitating Transfer across Artistic, Scholarly, and Scientific Inquiries.” Performance as Research: Knowledge, Methods, Impact. Ed. Annette Arlander, Bruce Barton, Melanie Dreyer-Lude, and Ben Spatz. London: Routledge. 32-49.

22. Hansen, Pil. 2017a. “Connective Tissue: Practice as Research in Cross-disciplinary Research Collaborations.” Canadian Theatre Review on Artistic Research 172 (Winter): 18-22.

23. Soydan, Abdullah Safa, Gabriele Kuzabaviciute, Roxane Fallah, Bianca Guimarães de Manuel, Vera Parlac, and Pil Hansen. 2017. “When Constraints of Embodied Cognition Become Porous: Performances of Sensory Interactivity in Design.” Repertoire 20.28: 108-133.

24. Hansen Pil and Robert Oxoby. 2017. “An Earned Presence: Studying the Effect of Multi-task Improvisation Systems on Cognitive Learning Capacity.” Connection Science 29.1: 77-93.

25. Hansen, Pil. 2016a. “The Perceptual Dramaturgy of Swimmer (68).” Stage/Page/Play: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Theatre and Theatricality. Ed. Ulla Kallenbach and Anna Lavaetz. Copenhagen: Multivers. 124-140.

26. Hansen, Pil. 2016b. “The Adaptability of Language-Motor Connections in Dance and Acting: A Coordination Dynamics Experiment.” MAPA D2 Danca Digital 3.1: 82-92.

27. Hansen, Pil. 2015a. “The Dramaturgy of Performance Generating Systems.” Dance Dramaturgy: Modes of Agency, Awareness, and Engagement. Ed. Pil Hansen and Darcey Callison. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 124-142.

28. Hansen, Pil. 2015b. “Introduction.” Dance Dramaturgy: Modes of Agency, Awareness, and Engagement. Ed. Pil Hansen and Darcey Callison. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 1-27.

29. Hansen, Pil with Christopher House. 2015. “Scoring the Generating Principles of Performance Systems.” Performance Research on An/Notation 20.6: 65-73.

30. Hansen, Pil with Karen Kaeja and Ame Henderson. 2014. Self-organization and Transition in Systems of Dance Generation.” Performance Research: On Turbulence 19.5: 23-33.

31. Hansen, Pil. 2014a. “Dancing Performance Generating Systems.” Commissioned by KEDJA’s “Writing Dance” Project. Koreografisk Journal 2: 62-67.

32. Hansen, Pil. 2013. “From Spectrum to Prism: Shifting Positions on Dance Dramaturgy – a conference response and summary.” CTR 155: 21-24.

33. Hansen, Pil with Ame Henderson. 2011. “Processing Memory in 300 TAPES and relay.CTR 145: 11-20. Contribution as primary author: 60%.

34. Hansen, Pil. 2011. “Perceptual Dramaturgy: Swimmer (68).” In the section “Cognitive Science, Theatre, and Performance:  The State of the Field” of Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism XXV.2: 107-124.

35. Hansen, Pil and Bruce Barton. 2010. “Research-Based Practice: Situating Vertical City between Artistic Development and Applied Cognitive Science.” At the Intersection Between Art and Research. Practice-Based Research in the Performing Arts. Eds. Carsten Friberg and Rose Parekh-Gaihede. Aarhus, Denmark: NSU Press. 87-124.

36. Hansen, Pil. 2010. “PRIVATE ACTS: Devising Clark and I from Found Memories.” CTR 142: 25-29.

37. Hansen, Pil and Bruce Barton. 2009. “Research-Based Practice: Situating Vertical City between Artistic Development and Applied Cognitive Science.” TDR: The Drama Review 53.4: 120-136. Contribution as co-author: 50%

38. Hansen, Pil. 2009. “(P)re-viewing Project Putz: direct from Berlin, 1986.CTR 137: 55-60. 

39. Hansen, Pil. 2008a. ”Dramaturgisk Navigation med Danske og Canadiske Redskaber.” (Dramaturgical Navigation with Danish and Canadian Tools). Dramaturger og Dramaturgier. Peripeti 10: 61-74.

40. Hansen, Pil. “The Reflection Forums of Moving Stage Lab.” CTR 135 (Summer 2008): 58-60.

Chapters and Articles (not peer reviewed) 

41. Hansen, Pil. 2023. "The Triadic Contours of Ethics in Practice-Based and Interdisicplinary Research." Performance Matters 9.1-2: 372-375.

42. Hansen, Pil. 2014. “Dancing Performance Generating Systems.” (Significantly expanded version). Theatre Topics: On Dramaturgy 24.3: 255-260.

43. Hansen, Pil. 2008. “Dramaturgical Strategies: Articulations from Five Toronto-Based Theatre Artists.” Developing Nation: New Play Creation in Canada. Ed. Bruce Barton. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press. 169-84.

44. Hansen, Pil. 2006. “Designet bag Re.Searching.” (The Design of Re:Searching). Re:Searching: om Praksisbaseret Forskning i Scenekunst. (Re: Searching: on Practice-based Research in the Performing Arts). Ed. Lisbeth Elkjær. Copenhagen: NordScen. 11-19.

45. Hansen, Pil. 2005. ”Dance Dramaturgy: possible work relations and tools.” Space and Composition. Eds. M. Frandsen and J. Schou-Knudsen. Copenhagen: Nordscen. 124-142. 

46. Hansen, Pil. 2003. “Dramaturgi og (Tids-)Perception.” (Dramaturgy and (Time-)Perception). BUNT: Bulletin of Nordic Theatre Studies.

Book Review

47. Hansen, Pil. 2017. “Theatre, Performance and Cognition: Languages, Bodies and Ecologies. Edited by Rhonda Blair and Amy Cook. London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2016”. Theatre Research International 42.3. In Press.

Artistic Works Dramaturged

Devising / Inter-arts Dramaturgy

1. Tiny. New play written by Bruce Barton and Directed by Alex McLain. Zupper Theatre, Estern Front Theatre. Halifax. November 2019.

2. Did you Mean Rocket? Vertical City Performance. Directed by Bruce Barton with sound art by Richard Windeyer and Laurie Radford. Performance and dance by Emily Promise and Stephanie Tremblay. New Works Calgary Festival, November 2018.

3. Conduct. School of Creative and Performing Arts Production. Reeve Theatre, Calgary. February 2018.

4-9. TJLABS #3-7. Artists in residence #3 Col Sceke and Elaine Lee, #4 Mike Czuba and Melissa Tuplin, #5 Kara Nolte, #5 Julie Ferguson, #6 Geoffrey Simon Brown and Michaela Cochrane. Theatre Junction Grand, Calgary. October 2016- April 2017. 

10. Trace. Directed by Bruce Barton. A Vertical City Production. High Performance Rodeo, Calgary. Winter 2017.

11. Playing Our City. Concept by Bruce Barton, musical composition by Alan Bell and Laurie Radford, transmission by Eric Bumstead, site animation by Adam Johnson, Bib Fenske, and Kyle Eustace. Commissioned by JUNO. Two public locations, Calgary. March 2016.

12. Taste. Co-directed by Eric Rose and Bruce Barton, written by Bruce Barton. Co-produced by Ghost River Theatre, Vertical City Performance, and The River Café. Beakerhead Festival at the River Café, Calgary. September 2015.

13. 2YouTopia. Directed by Bruce Barton. Vertical City Performance, commissioned by Nuit Blanche’s Curated Program. City Hall,Toronto. October 2014.

14. Trace. Directed by Bruce Barton. A Vertical City Production. SummerWorks Theatre Festival, Toronto. Summer 2014.

15. YouTopia. Vertical City Performance. Performed by Kiran Friesen and Adam Paolozza with sound art by Richard Windeyer and directed by Bruce Barton, The Glen Morris Studio Theatre, Toronto. September 2013.

16. All Good Things. Vertical City Performance. Written and directed by Bruce Barton, performed by Martin Julien. The Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto. February 2013.

17. Swimmer 1968. Performed by Ker Wells and directed by Bruce Barton, Toronto. May 2011.

18. Vertical City. With the director Bruce Barton and 4 physical devising and aerial performers. Co-produced with Harbourfront Theatre and HATCH, Toronto. May 2008.

Dance Dramaturgy

19.Touch Me Hold Me Let Me Go (stage version). Written, choreographed, and performed by Lee Su-Feh. Dramaturged with DD Kugler. Battery Opera. Scotiabank Dance Centre, Vancouver May 2023.

20. Carbon Movement. Choreographed by Ainsley Hilliard, performed/co-created by deaf ASL poet Connor Yuzwenko-Martin, vibration technology by VibraFusion Lab, deaf consultant Chris Dodd, dramaturged with Chris Dodd and Aimee Rushton. SoundOff Festival, Edmonton. March 2023.


21. Touch-X. Choreographed by Karen Kaeja with Michael Caldwell, Brayden Cairns, Nikeshia Garrick, Jessica Germano, David Norsworthy, Mio Sakamoto, Yoi Ugai, and Irma Villafuerte. Featuring 35 intergenerational community members. Composer Gregory Harrison. Dramaturged with Shannon Litzenberger. Kaeja d’Dance. Harbourfront Theatre’s international Torque Series. Toronto, November 2022.


22.Touch Me Hold Me Let Me Go (online version). Written, choreographed, and performed by Lee Su-Feh. Dramaturged with DD Kugler. Battery Opera. Published, broadcasted, and performed at symposiums, in online publications, and in public spaces and workshops across Canada. Online Performance, Dance In Vancouver, November 2021.


23. Laneway Dances. Dance Film 1, 3, and 4. Choreographed by Karen Kaeja, conceived and directed by Allen and Karen Kaeja, music score by Edgardo Moreno, produced by Kaeja d’dance, ArtworxTO, Toronto. August 2021.


24. L.O.V.E deconstructed. Choregraphed by Barbara England, danced by Heather Ware and Nicole Charlton Goodbrand. Fluid Fest, Calgary Central Library. October 2019.

25. Crave. Kaeja d’Dance, Choreography by Karen Kaeja, The Theatre Centre, Toronto. May 2017.

26. Taxi! Kaeja d’Dance, Choreography by Karen Kaeja, The Enwave at Harbourfront Theatre, Toronto. March 2015.

27. I’ll Crane For You. Solo Adaptation of Deborah Hay’s Score by Christopher House. Toronto Dance Theatre. Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto. January 2015.

28. Henderson/Castle. By choreographer Ame Henderson and composer Jennifer Castle with the Toronto Dance Theatre Ensemble. Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto. February 2014.

29. Crave. Kaeja d’Dance, Choreography by Karen Kaeja, The Enwave at Harbourfront Theatre, Toronto. May 2013.

30. Porch View Dances. Kaeja d’Dance. Seaton Village Neighbourhood, Toronto. Summer 2012.

31. ”EX:changing memories of movement.”  Collaboration with Public Eye and the choreographer Sara Gebran. Residence at Dramatiska Instituttet in Stockholm, Sweden. January – February 2007.

32. Six dance creations, including Frontiers. Public Eye / Choreographer Sara Gebran, Copenhagen, Denmark. October 2003 – 2007.

33. ÆTYDE. Choreographer Ari Rosenzweig, Copenhagen, Denmark. August 2002.


“Dance and Cognitive Science.” Interviewed by Isis Caramba and Maaike Bleeker. Performing Arts and Science Encounters, hosted by the University of Utrecht and funded by the Dance Engages Science network. www.performing 53 minute broadcast on the subject of research methods. January 2016.

 Broadcast during launch of the Beacon institute, announcing partnership and research initiatives in performance and cognition at the SCPA. UofKent, Canterbury, UK. 5 minute broadcast. September 2015.

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