Alumnae/i Profile

Nancy Spainer, MA

Nancy SpainerNancy Spainer is a choreographer, director, writer, creator of spontaneous performance events, filmmaker, and teacher of performance creation. She bridges the gap between many artistic disciplines to create, what she has coined, Performance Inventions. Her Company, created in 1974, established itself as a recognized contributor to the art of performance nationally and internationally. She began dancing at the age of 3 in New York City and by the time she was 11 had started performing with the early modern dance pioneers José Limon, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Daniel Nagrin and Helen Tamiris. Her work has had over 250 performances abroad during 11 tours that include a month long season in Paris, Scotland's Edinburgh Festival, Denmark's Aarhus Festival and a tour of southern Germany. Other tours include Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, and France. The U.S. State Department officially sanctioned her Company's cultural ambassadorship. More than 1,500 performances of her work have been given throughout the USA including the Rocky Mountain Region, New York City, Los Angeles, Vermont, and Washington, DC at the Kennedy Center. She attended the Juilliard School of Music and received her BA degree in Dramatic Literature from Middlebury College in 1964 and her MA degree in Dance from Mills College in 1969. Teaching highlights include Naropa University, Stockholm's Statens Dansskola, Aarhus Teater Skole, Copenhagen's Actor's Union, Bali's College of Performing Arts, and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In 2002 she retired from the faculty of the University of Colorado where she taught for 34 years. Videodance has become a major thrust in her work and she has shot many dance films all in southwestern France where she now lives and continues her artistic life.

What about your Mills experience have you continued to benefit from since graduating?

My experience at Mills gave me many tools that I was able to bring into my work as a young choreographer and young teacher which I have kept developing and refining to this very day. It also was my first opening into artistic collaboration (music and visual art) which has, ever since my Mills experience, been a major thrust in my work. Mills offered me the opportunity to be highly experimental, to take risks, to always question, and to be open to radically innovative ideas. This way of thinking and working has impacted who I am today as an artist.

How has dance helped shape your current work or passions?

Dance has always been and continues to be my way of communicating deeply and intimately with the world at large and also with myself. Dance eliminates language barriers so it has enabled me to "speak" through its symbolic language to many different cultures, countries and individuals in all walks of life. It is a universal language so works very well for one like me who is an expat living abroad. I find that dance seeks to illuminate what is essential to the human experience.

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Last Updated: 3/15/18