Elizabeth Johnson has many impressive credits to her name: After graduating from George Mason University with a BFA with honors, and from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with an MFA in Performance and Choreography, Johnson went on to tour nationally and internationally. She is the founder and Artistic Director of her own company, Your Mother Dances, and her choreography has been produced in a number of cities, including New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago.
Now, she is taking her talents to the School of Theatre and Dance, where she has recently accepted the position of an Assistant Professor. UF’s status as a Research One institution, as well as its high academic reputation, were both on Johnson’s “wish list” when she considered the types of institutions she wanted to be a part of. To Johnson, one of the most impressive and important aspects of UF is its dedication to humanism and service.
“To have a place of inquiry where Dance is embodied, viewed, and articulated as research that is as viable as any other body of knowledge is not a small thing for folks like me, who have invested our life study and practice in the form,” Johnson explains. Johnson recognizes that American culture and the academy have had a history of devaluing Dance as an artform and as type of traditional knowledge, which is part of why teaching at UF is such an important experience. Her ultimate goal as an educator is to “prepare students to be expressive, trained, dancing bodies as well as articulate writers and communicators of that unique human experience.”
The engagement, creativity, and astuteness of the students and faculty have confirmed Johnson’s hope for UF and, though she hasn’t been in Gainesville long, she is already impressed by the range and depth of the culture both UF and the greater city have to offer. Right now, she is keeping busy teaching, and plans to more thoroughly explore Gainesville when the weather cools down.
“I look forward to teaching every day—it’s a chance to move, express, create, experiment, analyze, and be curious about life,” Johnson says. “Those of us who dance every day know we are privileged to do it—we learn with our whole selves, body and mind, which makes life less compartmentalized. I think many people are currently searching for that experience: bodies and minds that are less separated and more connected. We have something deep and meaningful to offer in academia and well beyond.”