I am a highly kinetic and sentient person. The question of how dance looks versus how dance feels is ever present for me as a dance artist.


Karen Schaffman, life-long dance artist. Dancing for me is a transformative, healing and transgressive force for self-awareness, political change and social communication. I am committed to the exchange of knowledge by honoring individual experiences in a respectful collective container. My early technical training, at The Hartford Conservatory and the Five-College Dance Program in western Massachusetts, is based in the Euro-American traditions of ballet and modern and Black Dance forms of jazz and modern. A pivotal point in my life and movement perspective arose at CNDO/ADDC Arnhem (1989-1991) where I dove deeply into improvisation, experimental composition and somatic research. I awakened further to the context of dance, history and socio-politics through cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside. I earned my Ph.D. (2001) with my dissertation focusing on contact improvisation and identity.

Certified in the Feldenkrais Method® (2016), I welcome the endless practice of somatic awareness as an individual, cultural and political phenomenon. Since 2001, I have been fostering a Dance Studies Program at CSU San Marcos, on the traditional and unceded lands of the Luiseño/Payómkawichum people.

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Teaching for me is a mutual exchange where everyone is learning, including myself. My intention is to serve as a guide for people so that they can discover their own embodied knowledge, expand their creativity, and inform themselves of ways to witness one other artistic work.

Performance Projects

Selected Works, 1999-Current


Curation is service. Curation supports artistic growth, fosters community dialogue, and broadens our worldview. Since 1994, I have hosted and produced exceptional artists and scholars committed to the expansion of the awareness and knowledge of what dance is and what dance can do.