Tracy Breathnach PhD

Tracy is a performance artist, researcher and writer based in south Wales, UK. Originally from Ireland, she has worked extensively in communities in the UK and abroad for over 20 years.

She has developed her own approach to embodied performance and living, which she shares through her teaching courses and creative projects. This is inspired by integral philosophy, which includes all aspects of our human Being-ness: physical, emotional. mental, psychic (soul) and spiritual, and informed by a range of trauma-informed healing practices. Tracy has worked across arts, wellbeing, health and education fields for 20 years and is passionate about inclusive cultural provision.

Tracy holds a PhD and a MA with distinction from Aberystwyth University, both in Performance Studies. She worked closely with supervisor Jill Greenhalgh, founder of the Magdalena Project, an international network for women in theatre.

Tracy’s research is practice-based and explores embodied storytelling. Her PhD focused on autobiographical birth story-telling. From this she has developed a trauma-informed programme called Birth Cafe for women in the community to find new ways of telling their experiences in partnership with People Speak Up. She is working on her first book Sacred Birth – Opening to the Erotic Body. In 2020, Tracy gave a Tedx talk on her approach to embodied birth-storytelling – see link below.

Tracy has undertaken a 3 year post-graduate somatic training course with Joan Davis and Julia Gombos in Gorsehill, Ireland Original Nature – A Practice in Presence (2018-21). This included the foundations of the ground form of Authentic Movement, moving it into Embodied Spiritual Practice and further deeply cultivating the practice of entering into Direct Embodied Experience of the here and now with oneself and others. This is practiced both indoors and out in nature. She has undertaken training with a range of other teachers including Jules Heavens, Nick Twilley, Kim Rosen, Phillip Zarrilli, Oguri, Tracy visits and delivers teacher training in Auroville.

Birth Cafe: A transformational approach to birth storytelling | Tracy Breathnach | TEDxNantymoel

Previous Performances

Rehearsals for a Birth Story (2015)

I have built a listening chamber so that I might hear myself better. I am attempting to have a conversation with myself. I am rehearsing echoes of my Birth Story, which has yet to come. Perhaps when the speaking voices and the speaking body are amplified I will hear something I haven’t heard before. Maybe this will change everything.

We write our story before it begins.
We write it as we dream it to be.
We write it as we think it should be.
We write believing we can know what will happen.

We write our story before it begins,
And then feel more ready to begin –
To step into what we have already written.
Something known.

The listening chamber is a scenographic construction that uses digital technologies to manipulate sound and image, using principles of interruption, repetition, echo and reverberation. These are combined with live spoken text and physical action in a performance which explores ideas of memory and time/space in relation to the construction of personal narratives.

See film documentation of the performance.

Read pamphlet.

caesura (2013)

Memory has long shadows where no light falls. What persists in the dark?

In an exploration of my experience of giving birth under general anaesthetic, I have been investigating the pause or ‘caesura’ during which my child came into the world. Part of me had to disappear. No memories remain. Yet, I could not have fully disappeared, for there is a persistence of body.

How might we reach the past-absent self?

In this one-to-one performance, each audience member participates by walking the labyrinth, carrying their own thread. When they reach the centre they will encounter the whitened skin of the blind-folded woman. As she listens to and sews each thread to her dress, the caesura is beginning to close.

Through the stitches something is returning. Recovery may be possible.

See Timelapse footage of the performance.

Read pamphlet.

twenty minutes (2012)

I wish to communicate a specific experience, but I don’t actually remember it- I was unconscious. I know it lasted for twenty minutes. I remember what came before and I remember waking up afterwards. In that twenty minutes, my child was born. How can I communicate an experience that I do not remember myself?

I return to what I do remember… with a welcome to the dryness, and a prayer of invitation…

This was a 24 hour durational performance, in which I built a 10m diameter sand mandala and labyrinth. In the 24th hour I presented a performance for a public audience around and inside the labyrinth. There was a soundtrack, and a projected film. The film was an auto-interview of a repeated attempt to remember the details of my birth experience. An impossible task, but one which occupied my mind for years after the event.

See Timelapse footage of the performance.

Work with Tracy

Tracy works across cultural, education and community settings. She develops bespoke projects for organisations and her roles can include:

  • Performance artist
  • Storyteller
  • Community Facilitator
  • Creative Producer
  • Project Manager
  • Trainer

If her work and approach resonates with you please get in touch here.