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Alison Dietterle Smith

I am a movement educator, dancer, and lecturer in the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of California, San Diego where I have been teaching since 2003. I hold a BA in Biological Anthropology from UCSD, a MFA in Dance from UCI, and am a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®. My multiple roles as an artist, teacher, wife, mother, and avid surfer, inform my passion and zealous research in all movement. My teaching and artistic work is influenced by a merging of my early conservatory classical ballet training at the San Francisco and Pacific Northwest Ballet schools, modern and contemporary dance techniques, and my ongoing movement investigations in somatics, and embodied presence. My current research focuses on how dance functions as a way to deeply connect and re-kindle our lost reciprocity with the with the natural world around us; and how the reverberating capacity of movement rituals, and ceremony can re-weave us into a state of remembering.

I began dancing in the fog and forests of the Central Oregon Coast with Nancy Mittleman-Merkens and have had the pleasure of a life full of movement. My dancing path has been illuminated by my experiences with The Eugene Ballet Company, Ballet Pacifica, Stephanie Gilliand, eight years working with Jean Isaacs and San Diego Dance Theatre, Margaret Marshall, Christopher Pilafian, Joe Goode, Kim Epifano, Lisa Naugle, Donald McKayle, Risa Steinberg and the work of Jose Límon, Yolande Snaith, Allyson Green, Joe Alter, John Malashock, Anna Halprin, Shiva Rea, Rachel Brice, Gaga Metodika, and the amazing faculty, guest artists, and students that pass through the studios of the dance building at UCSD. 

My choreography has been presented at UC San Diego, UC Irvine, San Diego State University, Palomar College, Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater’s site-specific Trolley Dances, The City of Carlsbad, The Light Box, The 10th Ave. Theater, Sushi Performance and Visual Arts, The Electric Lodge in Venice, Dance Camera West Festival (Los Angeles); Colorado College Dance Festival (CO); Frederick Lowe Theater (NYU); Constanta Opera House (Romania); and CECUT (Mexico).

Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher, it is my intention to help the students in my courses experience the world more richly. Dance is a field as diverse as the human experience. Each student brings the unique qualities of their physical histories and cultural backgrounds to their movement vocabulary. It is my role as an educator to facilitate the discovery of new ways of moving and feeling the self; to illuminate new insights and connections for each individual student. I am interested in how we all uniquely carry the dance within us. I am curious how we connect and make meaning of the world around us through our physicality. Moving and dancing provide a way for us to tap into our most ancient practices and rituals as humans. I enjoy the process of bringing this tone to my weekly technique classes, lectures, and rehearsals at UCSD. My desire is to create a place where we can feel more of our moving selves, a vibrating, luminous space, where the world unfolds in breaths and connections to the universe around us . . . a place where we let go of the tension of time and step into the dancing ground . . . living each moment in the DANCE.

I teach the following courses in the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of California, San Diego:

Advanced and Intermediate Ballet Technique
Advanced and Intermediate Contemporary Technique
Movement Analysis
Dance Pedagogy
Dance History and Cultural Perspectives on Dance

Choreography and Dance Making

Screendance and Dance for the Camera

Site Specific and Site Responsive Improvisation, Performance and Composition

Movement Lab: Myth into Dance

All Videos

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Dance in your true body before time,
Shimmering energy without end.
Simply go to the intersection of flesh and spirit,
Breathe the tiny sparks that fly.

~The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche


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