Ruth Hellier

Ruth Hellier
Ethnomusicology Program

Office Location

Music Building 1105


Sonic arts and environmental sensitivities: birds, plants and ecologies
This project engages with soundscape ecologies (specifically birds but extending to all acoustic elements) and sonic arts to examine issues of environmental and more-than-human activities.
(Courses: Sonic arts and environmental creativity (MUS 168) Spring 2021; Environmental Arts + Sciences: Performing Balance (INT 94UR) Spring 2018; Aqua Rising: exploring sonic, visual and movement arts for ecological sensitivity (INT 94VY) Spring 2020). 
Performance Studies
Experimental performance, postdramatic theater, and postmemory
Politics and cultural histories of performance (musics, theater, and dance) in Mexico
Nationalism, tourism, and twentieth-century Mexican history
Voice, singing, choirs, music and biography
Community arts and education
Music and Sport
Eco-justice, activism and performance (music, theatre, dance)
University of Illinois Press
Women Singers in Global Contexts website
Oxford University Press
Intellect & University of Chicago Press
Faculty Affiliate: Department of Theater and Dance; Department of Feminist Studies; Latin American and Iberian Studies Program
Former Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos (UC Press), 2014–2019, Volumes 31– 35. (


Birmingham City University, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, 2002.
Performance Studies and Critical Dance Studies
Title: “Removing the Mask: The Viejitos Dance as Ideological and Political Tool in Post-Revolution Mexico 1920-1940.”
University of Central England.  Drama in Education, 1991. Postgraduate Certificate of Education.
B.A. Hons         
University of Birmingham.  Music, Drama & Dance, 1983.



Ruth Hellier, PhD, is a scholar, creative artist and performer, whose work engages in interdisciplinary ways with the areas of performance studies, critical and interdisciplinary music, dance and theatre studies; community arts; cultural history; critical memory/heritage studies; and Mexican and Latin American studies. Her research and creative projects explore issues of identity, memory and history; power relations; tourism; embodiment; experimentalisms; vocality; ecologies and environmental issues; and the ethics in/of performance and research.
Performing Palimpsest Bodies coverPublications include Embodying Mexico: Tourism, Nationalism, and Performance (OUP); chapters in Performance, Embodiment and Cultural Memory, and Music, Power and Politics; articles in Performance Research and Research in Drama Education; an edited collection, Women Singers in Global Contexts  (University of Illinois Press) and Performing Palimpsest Bodies: Postmemory Theatre Experiments in Mexico (Intellect & University of Chicago Press).
She holds BA Hons in Music, Drama and Dance, PGCE in Drama in Education; and PhD in Performance Studies and Critical Dance Studies. Ruth had a successful career as a professional stage and TV actor, and also worked as a community arts facilitator, and Head of Music in secondary education. In the field of arts and disability, she directed the InterAct Theatre Workshop.
Current Faculty Positions
Professor: University of California, Santa Barbara. Department of Music
Affiliated Faculty: Theater and Dance; Feminist Studies: Latin American and Iberian Studies
 Current Leadership Roles 
Former Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos (UC Press), 2014–2019, Volumes 31– 35. (
Specialist Training
  • 1997-1998: P'urhépecha language: Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacán, México.
  • 1994: Teaching English as a Foreign Language: International House, London. Certificate Royal Society of Arts/UCLES TEFLA.
  • 1993: Tanzanian arts: Bagamoyo College of Arts, Bagamoyo, Tanzania, Africa.
  • 1985-1987: Puppetry: Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre, Birmingham, Puppetry, teacher: John Blundell.
  • 1985-1992: Acting & Directing: The Actors Centre, London, Manchester and Birmingham.
  • 1980-1983: Opera: Birmingham School of Music. Teacher: Janet Edmunds.
  • 1973-1983: Alexander Technique: Chelmsford (Essex Schools String Orchestra) and Birmingham University.
  • 1973-1979: Piano and Violin: Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, Junior Music School scholarship, Piano and Violin.
    Grade VIII, Piano and Grade VIII, Violin, Royal Schools of Music, 1979.
  • 1969-1978: Dance (ballet, tap, modern) Brenda Goddard School of Dancing, Essex.
Three strands: 1. Performer, creative artist; 2. Head of Music; 3. Professor
  • July 2019: Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • July 2013: Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • July 2011: Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • 2002-2011: Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor, USA equivalent). University of Winchester, UK [full-time, tenured.]
    • Performing Arts, Contemporary Experimental Performance & Theatre; Applied Theatre; Music Theatre.
    • Visiting Associate Professor: University of California, Santa Barbara (Sep-Dec: on leave from the University of Winchester), 2010.
    • Visiting Lecturer, Departments of Music and Theater & Dance: University of California, Santa Barbara (Sep-June on leave from the University of Winchester), 2008-09.
    • Research Fellow, Arts and Humanities Research Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance, SOAS, University of London, 2005.
[2000–2001: writing doctoral dissertation]
  • 2000-01: Lecturer in Performing Arts, Dance and Performance Studies: South Birmingham College, Birmingham [part-time].
  • 2000-01: Lecturer in Latin American and Caribbean History: Department of Comparative American Studies, University of Warwick [part-time].
  • 2000-01: Studio Teacher, voice and singing: Birmingham Theatre School, Birmingham [part-time].
  • 2000-01: Teacher, classroom music, drama/dance, and Choir Director: Camp Hill School (ages 11–18), Birmingham [part-time].
[1994-1999: undertaking fieldwork for doctoral research in Mexico. Extended periods.]
  • 1995-1996: Head of Music, classroom teaching, Choir director, Orchestra conductor, Dance director, Piano accompanist for Mass: Bishop Challoner School (11–18), Birmingham.
  • 1994-1995: Head of Music, classroom teaching, Choir director, Orchestra conductor, Wind band director, Dance director, piano accompanist for Mass: St Thomas Aquinas School (11-18), Birmingham.
  • 1994: Teacher, drama and performing arts: Countersthorpe Community College (14–16), Leicestershire.
[1990-1991: Postgraduate Certificate in Education: Drama in Education – full-time student.]
  • 1983-1993: Actor, musician, puppeteer, musical director, composer, dancer:
    • UK (Repertory, touring, community, children’s, educational, TV)
    • [see section Creative Works Prior to 2003 for details].
  • 1983-1993: Workshop leader: theatre arts, dance and music (including, Community arts facilitator and workshop leader, Artlink, West Midlands Arts, 1985-1991).
  • 1979-1980: Choir director and piano accompanist: The College Singers, Writtle College, University of Essex.



Professor Ruth Hellier with Son Jarocho musician Jorge Mijangos, UCSB students, and the Harmony Project Ventura. May 2015. Photo by Sonia Fernandez.