Andrea Olsen

Professor Emerita of Dance


Andrea Olsen, dance artist, author, and educator, is a Professor Emerita of Dance at Middlebury College, and a certified instructor of Holden QiGong and Embodyoga. She is author of a triad of books on the body: Bodystories: A Guide to Experiential AnatomyBody and Earth: An Experiential Guide, and The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making with colleague Caryn McHose, along with numerous articles and chapters in anthologies Recent projects include continuing the Body and Earth: Seven Web-Based Somatic Excursions film project with Scotty Hardwig and Caryn McHose ( and performing “Awakening Grace: Six Somatic Tools”.  See "schedule" and “new publications” (http://andrea-olsen.comfor updates. and

Degrees, Specializations & Interests:
MFA University of Utah, Dance Choreography

Photo Credit - Alan Kimara Dixon






Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

DANC 0277 / ENVS 0277 - Body & Earth      

Body and Earth
This course has been designed for students with an interest in the dialogue between the science of body and the science of place. Its goals are to enhance movement efficiency through experiential anatomy and to heighten participants' sensitivity to natural processes and forms in the Vermont bioregion. Weekly movement sessions, essays by nature writers, and writing assignments about place encourage synthesis of personal experience with factual information. Beyond the exams and formal writing assignments, members of the class will present a final research project and maintain an exploratory journal. 3 hrs. lect. 1 hr. lab. AMR ART CW NOR PE

Fall 2015

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DANC 0376 / ENVS 0277 - Anatomy and Kinesiology      

Anatomy and Kinesiology
This course offers an in-depth experiential study of skeletal structure, and includes aspects of the muscular, organ, endocrine, nervous, and fluid systems of the human body. The goal is to enhance efficiency of movement and alignment through laboratory sessions, supported by assigned readings, exams, and written projects. (Not open to first-year students) 3 hrs. lect. ART PE

Fall 2015

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DANC 0500 - Independent Project      

Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2015

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DANC 0700 - Independent Project      

Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2015

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ENVS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
In this course, students (non-seniors) carry out an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Winter 2016, Winter 2017, Winter 2018, Winter 2019

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ENVS 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
In this course, seniors complete an independent research or creative project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. During the term prior to enrolling in ENVS 0700, a student must discuss and agree upon a project topic with a faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program and submit a brief project proposal to the Director of Environmental Studies for Approval. The expectations and any associated final products will be defined in consultation with the faculty advisor. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 as a one-term independent study OR up to twice as part of a multi-term project, including as a lead-up to ENVS 0701 (ES Senior Thesis). (Senior standing; Approval only)

Winter 2016, Winter 2017, Winter 2018, Winter 2019

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DPPG 8542 / ICCO 9542 - SPR:Communicating Change World      

Communication skills are of particular relevance to Development Practice and Policy (DPP) students who intend to work in diverse intercultural settings to promote social change for social justice. We believe that communication is the center point of what constitutes development (defined as furthering social justice). The communications field has traditionally been understood as public relations and marketing but in this course, we focus on identity, perceptions, listening and advocacy dimensions and how our internal landscape affects how we act, speak and listen in intercultural contexts. Many projects have failed because development has simply been understood as imitation of more developed countries and transfer of information and knowledge leading to desired changes in behavior. In this sense, communication becomes purely instrumental. It has become clear that we must pay attention to the process and intent of the communication between the varied stakeholders: the donors, recipients, government representatives, community leaders, and people who live in those communities. Thus, we would like to define communication for development as the use of communication processes, techniques and media to help people toward a full awareness of their situation and their options for change, to resolve conflicts, to work towards consensus, to help people plan actions for change and sustainable development.

International aid agencies are now calling more and more for the kinds of ‘soft skills’ that help aid workers enter new communities, to come across as human beings who are self-aware and present, who listen before talking or telling, who are also aware that communication is much more than just ‘verbal’. A central premise of this course is that communication is a whole-body experience and that it involves a dynamic and fluid interchange between a person’s internal and external environments. A second premise is that when we naturally connect with ourselves, we connect better with others and truly share practical wisdom and insights. Drawing from the Intercultural Communication literature and from the literature on ‘Whole Body Intelligence, as well as case studies drawn from both development agencies’ experiences and alumni working in the field, we will investigate how we ‘arrive’ in a new community, how we use our voice, how we listen, and how we use space. We will examine how understanding our nervous system helps us deal with conflict. We will explore our own perceptions and biases as development workers, how projections may lead to ‘othering’ and to conflict. We will investigate how the languages we employ shape the way we communicate. We will focus on our own identities, as well as how others perceive us and how identity interplays with power. We will study different modes of communication: verbal and nonverbal, as well as virtual. Art and food traditions will also be explored as significant avenues of communication, enhancing intercultural values and dialogue.

Spring 2018 - MIIS

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DPPG 8659 - SEMInterculturlArts&SocialChng      

SEM: Intercultural Arts & Social Change

The arts play a central role in cultural identity and integrity. They also can have significant impact on the visibility and impact of development projects, including environmental and educational initiatives. In this DPP seminar, we address ways of making professional projects more effective through incorporating local culture experienced through the arts. This includes: 1) Hosting six international and U.S. artists and their collaborative projects focused on African nations, African-American fusion, Japan, and Mexico, and connecting these experiences to social justice goals within DPP frameworks. 2) Discerning attitudes about culture and identity while developing creative approaches and artistic skills applicable to intercultural communication in professional contexts. Group and individual projects lead to presentations open to the MIIS community. The course is offered in conjunction with 10X10: Intercultural Arts and Leadership, a Fund for Innovation project, hosted by Tangut Degfay and collaborators.

Variable credits: Taken as DPP Seminar (4 credits)

Taken as DPP Professional Practice Requirement or General Coursework (2 credits)

Public colloquium at the end of the seminar

Note: Different deliverables will be required at the end for 2-credit or 4-credit involvement/Same contact hours.

Faculty administered rehearsal hours for specific projects are included in +30 hour required participation for all students.

Spring 2018 - MIIS

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Bodystories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy, with Caryn McHose

Bodystories book

Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide

body and earth book

Andrea's writing resonates a deep engagement with the earth and our potential for connection. Wondrously matter of fact, she negotiates an awareness built on sensing, movement and clear information. She gives us the tools to note those small epiphanies of science and existence, of the land and the heart, with detail, spirit and a humbling sense of place. Body and Earth is a practice, a reminder of the enormously simple act of conscious living. This is a book that will be rained on, danced with, left behind and found again, borrowed and used for life.

-Bebe Miller, Choreographer and Artistic Director of Bebe Miller Company, and Professor of Dance at The Ohio State University

The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making, with Caryn McHose

The Place of Dance is a gift to the world of dance and to the world at large. Anyone who has seen or been involved in a dance of any kind must read this book. It opens doors to the lovely visceral mystery of the art form. It will likely become a teacher’s guide as well. Andrea Olsen has created a literate reflective surface from which to envision the body in motion.

—David Dorfman, dance department chair, Connecticut College, and artistic director, David Dorfman Dance

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 See more lectures and workshops at

Program in Dance

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753