"Studying and practicing through the soma (body) invites respect, inquiry, and awareness for self, others, and the world."
As a dance artist, teacher, and scholar, Jane Hawley is deeply interested in reinventing dance training by exploring and researching the relationship of self to body. “My research emphasizes understanding how the body is the realization of self through the continuous experimentation, practice, and development of movement fundamentals,” she says. “Challenges within this research lie in negotiating the boundaries and interplay between movement, dance, art, and life.”
Hawley believes that experiencing the body as a “threshold” or “point of entry” invites a deep relationship with an authentic understanding of self and life purpose, unfolding a more general intellectual path. She says, “Studying and practicing through the soma (body) invites respect, inquiry, and awareness for self, others, and the world.”
Hawley is primarily drawn to teaching how to use the body as a practice of being and expressing.
Hawley has always imagined working within a community that valued the body as a source. “By source, I mean considering the body as a gift of intelligence and place that holds and processes our experiences of knowing and becoming,” she says. “At Luther, students can take courses for their bachelor of arts degree that are focused on somatic movement education, which values the judgments and decisions of the body. Developing the skills to access and listen to the body as an intelligent source empowers a student to trust their body knowing it as a guide for their life pathway.”
Through her teaching at Luther, Hawley finds that somatic practices and knowledge within the liberal arts environment opens the mind to think more deeply and broadly, across the curriculum. “For example, thinking through the body can help a student connect more deeply to information from visual art, literature, music, science, psychology, physiology, ecology, economics, and sustainability,” she says. “It also helps the student more genuinely understand and more authentically connect to concerns regarding race, age, ability, gender, and class. Knowledge or study of the body automatically solicits increased awareness of historical-social-cultural-political patterns and practices.”
“Practicing Embodiment” is the name of a summer session course Hawley teaches with religion professor Guy Nave.
“It’s a month of engaging in an interdisciplinary exercise between spirituality, sustainability, and the body,” she says. “While living and working on an organic farm, we live as a community and explore what it means to approach the human body and the earth as living partners of a sacred reality, co-creating and sustaining all physical and spiritual life. The students develop an embodied way of living that fosters and promotes integrated and sustainable physical and spiritual lives.”
I entertain the belief that when more people are embodied, the world will feel and act with more respect, tolerance, compassion, and awe.
Hawley teaches “Movement Fundamentals: Liberating Practices for Dance Artists, Movement in Life & Art.” The curriculum focuses on the integration of practicing embodiment, refining movement, and crafting expression.
Hawley is the mother of four boys.