Luther dance professor Jane Hawley featured in Dance Magazine

Sept. 18, 2009

Jane Hawley, M.F.A., Luther College associate professor of dance, was featured in the “Lifetime Learning” section of the May 2009 edition of Dance Magazine, a magazine for professional and aspiring dancers. 

The feature article, “Radically Somatic: Jane Hawley transforms dance at Luther College,” explores Hawley’s unique dance curriculum, which focuses on the mind-body connection.

A 1987 graduate of Luther College, Hawley received her training from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York and holds the master of fine arts degree in performance and choreography from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

She joined the Luther faculty in 2000. 

Hawley has performed in the New York premiere of Bebe Miller’s “Sanctuary” at Merce Cunningham Space and at the American College Dance Festival Association National Festival at the Kennedy Center, where she received Dance Magazine’s award for outstanding performer.

Hawley told Dance Magazine that she first experienced the mind-body material outside the studio while practicing integrated respiratory technique.

“Something shifted in my bodily intelligence that transformed my dancing both in the studio and on stage,” Hawley stated. “This catapulted me into seeking a new way to train dancers.”

Hawley went on to develop her own unique curriculum for movement fundamentals while working with children and dance students at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

While Hawley holds deep respect for dance tradition, she told Dance, “What if we view dance artists as we do other artists in that we don’t train painters to mimic Picasso.”

Hawley enjoys sharing her methods with students of all majors at Luther.  She told Dance, “We are all studying the body and we can carry that education into anything we do.”

One of Hawley’s former students, Lucy Schultz, a 2004 Luther graduate, majored in philosophy and art, yet she was able to use Hawley’s classroom to explore the mind-body connection.  Those experiments were the inspiration for her current doctoral work in philosophy at the University of Oregon.

Both the dance education and somatics community have praised Hawley’s methods.  She has presented at the National Dance Educators Organization, International Association for DanceMedicine and Science, and the Motus Humanus-Laban Institute of Movement Analysis.

Hawley said she enjoys watching Luther students and their newly developed approaches in expressing their work. She told Dance, “They are going out and doing their own thing with this material, which is terrifically exciting.”