Photo by Adam Emperor Southard
Photo by Adam Emperor Southard


Heather Vaughan-Southard’s writing, teaching, and choreography connects ideas and people through the lens of articulate movement (somatic dance and pilates) to improve communication, create enduring understandings, and enrich the human experience.

Vaughan-Southard is a movement educator with rich experiences throughout multiple tiers of education, as well as arts and health/wellness industries. She has directed dance programs in higher education, K-12 public schools, and has taught in non-profit and private studios. She works with clients rehabilitating from injury and joint replacement, those emerging from physical therapy or interested in supplementing talk, EMDR, or trauma therapies, and dancers/athletes looking to deepen their work.

With an approach to teaching movement as a liberal art, she draws from her career as a performer and choreographer in Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles—to create experiences that move beyond the boundaries of a studio, and translate into improved quality of life whether that be enhanced movement function, deeper self-knowledge, or expressive performance.

Vaughan-Southard serves on the Project Management Team of the Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment (MAEIA) project. MAEIA, funded by the State of Michigan’s Department of Education and the Michigan Assessment Consortium, has developed a blueprint and assessment specifications for high quality arts education within the K-12 public schools, as well as 360 student assessment items in Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. She is also a Board Member of the Michigan Dance Council.

Heather’s research examines how movement can be used as a strategies for:

-embodied learning for diverse populations through social-somatic theory,

-social and emotional skill-building and re-patterning movement habits

-innovative assessment practices for arts classrooms and pilates-based environments,

– alleviating physical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, brain injury and neurological impairment

-dance literacy: integrating English Language Arts principles within the choreographic process,

Her writings on dance can be found via venues such as Dance Advantage, where she has been a K-12 Dance Education columnist,  EducatingDancers and MAEIA blogs.


Vaughan-Southard’s teaching in K-12 public schools included urban and suburban school districts. The content in those programs featured dance technique from somatic perspectives, technical and performance theory, stylization, composition, history, and production. Within grades K-4, Vaughan-Southard specialized in Arts Integration strategies, particularly for the early elementary special education classroom.

She holds MFA and BFA degrees in dance, comprehensive pilates training through the McEntire School, and previously maintained K-12 Certification with an endorsement in Dance.

Please do not use my words or my pictures without my written permission. As for the ideas, feel free to borrow and adapt. I simply request that you give me appropriate credit for what is truly my own and let me know how things go. Join me in conversation.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Heather, I took a workshop of yours through Happendance 1-2 years ago in the summer and enjoyed it. I was doing workshops for Dance Lansing and choreographing at the time while visiting the Lansing area for the summer. I’m a licensed therapist, dancer. yoga teacher and educator. I’m currently based in Korea with the public school providing fresh ideas while working on choreography and workshops on the side. It seems we have a lot in common and would love to co-inspire, share or collabarate sometime.

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