Anatomy Dolls Lab

what | how | why

Part of the Faculty-Student Mentoring Program (F-SMP) at SDSU, Anatomy Dolls Lab is spacetime for dancemaking praxis in the intersections of artistry, performance, and transformation1when healing and development mingle, each supporting the other toward meaningful change.

We engage in contemplative and somatic practices toward creativity, renewal, and aliveness. We will capture and cultivate the dances that emerge. When we perform these dances, we notice when the gaze of the audience revs up or freezes our body~minds and we respond by deepening our commitment to the choreography.

Contemplative and somatic practices include Authentic Movement, Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, embodied anatomy, and contact improvisation. Some of these techniques overlap with those used in somatic movement therapy, somatic psychology, somatic psychotherapy, and other therapeutic modalities, but what we do in the studio is not meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. We engage in these practices as artists with the goal of making and performing dances. When we notice healing happening, we take notes.

Paradox Praxis: Embracing, leveraging, and transcending polarities

  • Communion~Autonomy
  • Spontaneous~Pre-Determined
  • Leader~Follower
  • Limitation~Liberation
  • Play~Rigor
  • Tiny Dances~Big Moves
  • Expansion~Contraction

State Change

  • Breathwork
  • Authentic Movement
  • The Choreography of Perception
  • Borders, both embodied and national
  • Deborah Hay’s questions
  • Audiencing vs. Witnessing vs. Beholding
  • Moving meditations


  • Participate in the research on Portal, a transborder collaboration with professional dancers from Tijuana, Mexico.
  • Learn to oscillate between meta-cognitive and fully immersed states of consciousness to identify and refine the elements of successful collaboration and mentorship as they occur in the studio.
  • Experiment with novel ways of documenting the creative process guided by Robin Nelson’s Practice-as-Research in the Arts (PaR) model with the goal of making insights gleaned accessible to others both within and beyond the academy. 


  • Package and promote their dances for regional and national performance venues, connecting them with professionals in the field, beginning with preparation, performance, and adjudication of their work at the American College Dance Association conference.
  • Create dance films and video documentation capturing and highlighting subjects’ humanity and moving away from the exploitation of human beings as objects for consumption. 
  • Experiment with conscious use of social media for the dissemination of dance research guided by resources from the Center for Humane Technology.
  • Identify potential interdisciplinary collaborations.