Aretha Aoki

Assistant Professor of Dance

Teaching this semester

DANC 1104. Dance Improvisation: Practices, Forms, and Structures

An introduction to the practice and art form of dance improvisation. Warm-ups and structures enhance student creative expression, range of movement, and body awareness. Various forms are introduced such as Contact Improvisation—a partnering dance form—Authentic Movement, and the improvisational methods and strategies of specific contemporary dance artists. Includes reading, writing, discussion, and, when possible, attendance at live improvisation performances and work with visiting professional artists. No previous dance experience is required.

DANC 3212. Advanced Repertory and Performance

Builds on the intermediate-level performances in DANC 2212: Modern II: Repertory and Performance. This course deepens students' work in creative process, rehearsal and performance through the creation of original choreography for the Department Dance Concert. Students may be involved in generating movement material as well as engaging in improvisational structures for performance. The course may also feature guest artists and opportunities for student choreography. It is recommended that students enroll in DANC 3211 (Modern Dance III: Technique) simultaneously, but this is not required.

Aretha is a choreographer, performer, editor, and occasional curator. She works collaboratively with artists across disciplines to make performances that explore the intersection between dance and other media, while being grounded in a deep physicality—in movement experimentation and research, and in the intuitive logic of the performer. Her current research is an exploration of the body as a medium for the residue of family history.

Aretha's work has been presented at various venues throughout New York City, New England, and Canada. The New York Times described her solos as “contemplative and probing.” As a performer, she has collaborated with Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance for over seven years. She has also worked with robbinschilds, Rebecca Serrell Cyr, devynn emory, Vanessa Anspaugh, Heather Kravas, Juliette Mapp, Daria Fain, Maura Donohue, Elizabeth Ward, Martin Lanz, Faye Driscoll, Lisa D’Amour & Katie Pearl, and many others.

Her writing has been published in Contact Quarterly, where she was Associate Editor for three years. She was a co-curator of the 2016 Movement Research Spring Festival Hand Written Note(s).


  • B.F.A. , Simon Fraser University; Burnaby, BC
  • M.F.A., Smith College; Northampton, MA