Alma Hawkins

Alma Hawkins (1905-1988) was a pioneer in dance education and the founder of the nation’s first dance department at University of California, Los Angeles. She began teaching dance at UCLA in the physical education department in 1953. By 1962, she had developed the prototype for the dance department of equal status to the Art, Music, and Theater departments in the UCLA College of Fine Arts. After the department’s initial class of 48 students, Hawkins developed the program by adding graduate courses and advocating for grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. She also campaigned for professional touring dance companies to perform on campus at the Royce Hall. In 1967, she began the West Coast Dance Film Archive in order to adequately document dance for future generations. She also founded the Council of Dance Administrators to establish and publish the Standards for Dance Majors Programs, which continues to guide dance curriculum today.

Hawkins also worked for 17 years as a dance and movement therapist and researcher at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Alma Hawkin’s published works include: Modern Dance In Higher Education (1953), Dance: A Projection of the Future (1968), Creating Through Dance (1964, 1988), Moving From Within: A New Method for Dance Making (1991).

She retired from UCLA in 1977 but continued to teach at Santa Monica College for another 10 years.

Further Reading:

Obituary: Oliver, Myrna. “Alma Hawkins; Founded Nation’s First University Dance Department at UCLA.” Los Angeles Times, January 15, 1998.

Obituary: Dunning, Jennifer. “Alma Hawkins, An Educator In Dance, Is Dead at 94.” New York Times, January 24, 1998.

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