headshot photo of Liz Maxwell

Liz Maxwell

Associate Professor
College of Performing Arts; Department of Dance
Expertise: Somatic Disciplines; Choreography; Dance Aesthetics
Office Location: Partridge Dance Center 113
Phone: 714-744-7073
Scholarly Works:
Digital Commons
The Juilliard School, Bachelor of Fine Arts
University of Washington, Master of Fine Arts


Liz Maxwell, MFA, CLMA, RSME is Associate Professor of Dance at Chapman University specializing in teaching somatic disciplines, modern dance techniques, dance history, and choreography.  She received her BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School of Music. There, she worked with such leading figures as Hanya Holm, Paul Taylor, Daniel Lewis, Kazuko Hirabayashi, Alfredo Corvino, Anna Sokolow, and Martha Hill.  Upon graduation she continued her performance studies in New York with Dan Wagoner, Jocelyn Lorenz, Alfredo Corvino, Irene Hultman, Vicky Shick, Merce Cunningham, Mel Wong, and Maggie Black. As a performer, Liz focused on concert dance in New York and performed and toured in the companies of Laura Dean, Lucinda Childs, Donald Byrd, Ton Simons, and Kenneth Rinker, traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. While in New York she also performed with Neil Greenberg, Elisa Monte, Bill Young, and in Trisha Brown’s first apprentice group. She has performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New York State Theatre, The Kennedy Center, The Joyce Theatre, Dance Theatre Workshop, American Dance Festival, Aaron Davis Hall, and in the televised performance of “Dancing in the Streets” at Grand Central Station. Liz’s professional work has included serving as a reconstructor of Laura Dean’s work and in researching trends in dance pedagogy as it relates to the preservation and relevance of dance repertory in the university setting.

Liz went on to earn her MFA in Dance at the University of Washington’s unique “returning professional” program where she honed an interest in dance aesthetics. While attending UW, she was a member of the “Chamber Dance Ensemble,” a company dedicated to the preservation and reconstruction of historically significant dance works, and she performed in seminal works by Isadora Duncan, Danny Buraczeski, Louis Falco, Isadora Duncan, Doris Humphrey, and Zvi Gotheiner.  Since moving to California, Liz has performed with Pacific Dance Ensemble, Trip Dance Theatre, The Yorke Dance Project, Ruth Barnes and Dancers, bodytalkdance, the Joe Goode Performance Group, and the CalArts Dance Ensemble. Liz has taught throughout Southern California at CalArts, Loyola Marymount University, CalPoly-Pomona, Rio Hondo College, UC-Riverside, California State University-Long Beach, Scripps College, and Pomona College. Her choreography has been presented in California by The Downtown Playhouse, The Fountain Theatre, LACE, The LA Edge Festival, Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, The Shoshana Wayne Gallery, as well as many college dance programs. In addition, she is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst, through Integrated Movement Studies, and a Registered Somatic Movement Educator through the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association. Current research projects include papers, workshops, and performances presented at Motus Humanus in Minnesota, American College Dance Festival in North Carolina, National Dance Education Organization in Maryland and Minnesota, and the Eastwest Somatic Network in New York. In addition, she traveled to Slovakia to present a paper on the work of Rudolf Laban titled “University Dance and the De-Construction of a Modern Dance Language.” She lives in Altadena, CA with her two teen-aged boys. 

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

This performance entitled "Three Moments of Grief" was organized by Tamiko Washington along with Susan Keys. The performers included current students and faculty. I performed a dance reconstruction by Isadora Duncan, "Mother" and was accompanied by Louise Thomas on piano. This performance included lecture/demonstration from all the participants and was held in the Fish Interfaith Hall.
This was a panel discussion on the Art and Science of Teaching Dance held at the Desert Dance Festival at New Mexico State University. My discussion centered on The Relevance of Somatic-Based Dance Pedagogy in a Changing World. The performance that followed illuminated these such themes in dance training with a dance performed with 3 Chapman Students titled, "Outside/In."
"The Weight of Things" a dance choreographed on Chapman dance students, performed in the Musco Theatre and was an homage to 9/11 first responders.
My Creative/Scholarly work this year, was begun in the Spring semester with proposals written and accepted for The International Dance Science and Pedagogy Conference, focusing on The Art and Science of Teaching Dance held at New Mexico State University in July. The proposal grew out of some projects that my students and I initiated through the course Somatics. To attend this conference with me, the students were awarded an Undergraduate Student Scholarly Research and Creative Activity Grant through Chapman. The project was both a performance of 3 students and myself which required advance work; (rehearsals and research) carried out in spring 2017. Our performance in July was very well received and thought to be one of the most topical projects presented at the festival.
"To Lead is to Follow..." is a dance performance I created for the Fall Concert at Chapman University for our first concert in the Musco Theatre for 10 students.
This was a solo dance performance entitled "Return" and was presented and curated by WAXworks and performed at the Triskelion Theatre in New York on June 28, 2015. This solo represents my on-going practice and interest with improvisational elements; such as dialogue, rhythmic timing and meaning, incorporated into a dance work. This dance is an amalgam of words, embodiment, analysis and performance meant to be "read" from a variety of perspectives.
I was to perform in one of three Choreographers Showcase that presented alumni from the dance program at the University of Washington in professional venues attached to the conference and workshops entitled, "Opening Doors: Celebrating 50 Years of Dance at the UW" from October 16-20, 2015. I was to perform my solo,"Return" However, I injured my hip at the dress rehearsal and was unable to perform in the showcase.
Congress on Research in Dance Conference. Theme: Tactical Bodies: The Choreography of Non-Dancing Subjects. Survey and Paper Presentation, "Choreographic Offerings: Examining the Hidden Agendas in Dance Concert Programming in Higher Education."
The dance, "Vantage Point" was created in collaboration with 10 Chapman Dance Majors and featured a commissioned music score by New York dance composer, Mio Morales.
Dance Kinesiology Teacher's Group Conference. Paper - "Curricular Programming to Facilitate Somatic and Anatomical Awareness in Higher Education."
"MinEvent" by Merce Cunningham performed by Chapman Dance students in the Fall Concert. Rehearsal Direction/Staging.
"The Collaborative Spirit: An Evening of Music and Dance" is an Interdisciplinary Dance and Music concert created in conjunction with the Conservatory of Music, specifically the Percussion Ensemble directed by Nick Terry. This production involved staging, reconstruction, choreography, and direction. It featured the creation of a new dance, "Impetus II," for 24 dancers and 8 live musicians as well as two pieces from the repertoire of Merce Cunningham and Jiri Kylian, two of the most famous innovators of the Twentieth Century.
National Dance Education Organization yearly conference on Dance Education. Paper presentation, "Bringing Music and Dance Together in the 21st Century."
The International Journal of the Humanities an article entitled "Decisions in Art Making: An Illustration Through Dance." Common Ground Press.
"The Power of a Name." A performance of "Return" including an interactive lecture and power point presentation.
Society of Dance History Scholars/Dance Critics Association, Paper - "Random-Access Repertory: New Imperatives for Teaching Our Dance Histories in the Millennium."
A solo performance, "Return" a dance performed at an international somatics festival, SomaFest held in Los Angeles.
"Impetus" is a dance I choreographed for Chapman University's Fall Faculty Concert.
"Liz Maxwell In Concert: Collected Performance from a Dancer's Life." A solo concert with Chapman students providing research and commentary between acts.
Staged and Rehearsal Directed a performance of "Breath of Fire," a dance by Laura Dean for Elon University.
Invention-In: Dance, Somatics and Movement Analysis Conference Performance of "Return."
"11 x 12 by Ten" is a dance that I choreographed for Chapman University's Fall Faculty concert.