University of Calgary

Anna Mouat

  • Associate Professor Emerita of the School of Creative and Performing Arts
  • Sessional Instructor (starts on May 1, 2024)

Currently Teaching

 P2024 - DNCE 345 - 20th Century Dance History


Professor Anna Mouat was born in London, England, and received her early dance training at the junior and senior Royal Ballet Schools. After moving to Canada in 1975, she joined the Paula Ross Contemporary Dance Company, performing in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in English Language, and from the University of Utah with an M.F.A. in Modern Dance. At the University of Utah she was a member of the Performing Danscompany, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society. She then served as the Director of the Dance Program at Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, for 3 years.

Since 1988 she has taught in the Dance Division at the University of Calgary, serving as Coordinator of the Program of Dance from 1995 to 2000, and Chair of the Dance Division from 2009 onwards. An Associate Professor, Mouat teaches Dance History, and has choreographed numerous works and served as Artistic Director for Mainstage Dance, the annual Dance Division student performance. Her writings have appeared in Dance Connection, Dance Current, the Calgary Herald, as well as in books and periodicals. In 2013, her book Dancing Images was published by Common Ground Publishing. Her research interests include dance history, and dance history iconography.


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Publications & Presentations

My current research interests encompass dance history, and dance history iconography. I am curious about the historical development of ideas over time and the emergence of identifiable patterns throughout history. I am fascinated by visual representation. From images we make sense of new learning. Images speak to our imagination; they stimulate our creativity; they have the potential to touch our hearts as well as our minds; our emotions as well as our intellect. Dance is primarily a visual art form and some of its most significant and revealing historical documents are visual.

I have recently published a book entitled Dancing Images that investigates the theoretical issues and practical concerns regarding the use of historic works of art as illustration in dance history, and also provides a resource of 170 dance history images 1581-1900 that illustrate the history of Western theatrical and social dance forms. I am currently investigating British and French satirical prints of theatrical and social dance, 1796 to 1850.


Seven Deadly Sins
12 minutes, 1 dancer, June 1999, Rozsa Center, University of Calgary.

15 minutes, 7 dancers, Summerdance, June 1995, University Theatre, University of Calgary.

17 minutes, 7 dancers, Mainstage, March 1994, University Theatre, University of Calgary.

Vicarious Lives
16 minutes, 8 dancers, Mainstage, March 1993, University Theatre, University of Calgary.

20 minutes, Children in Dance, December 1992, University Theatre, University of Calgary, Co-choreographer: Melissa Monteros.

18 minutes, 10 dancers, Mainstage, March 1991, University Theatre, University of Calgary.


choreographed by Leah Stein, July 2001, Artspring Theatre, Saltspring Island, BC.

Giant Steps
March 1987, Studio Theatre, Cleveland State University.

Kindred Spirit
choreographed by Patti Giovenco, Studio Theatre, Cleveland State University, April 1987.

Twilight North
May 1986, Studio Theatre, Cleveland State University.

January I
March 1986, Studio Theatre, Cleveland State University.

Revolving Dances
choreographed by Peggy Florin, Oberlin College, Cleveland State University, Feb 1986.

Publications & Presentations


Dancing Images. Champaign, Illinois: Common Ground Publishing, 2013.

Book Chapters

‘Dancing is the Circle,’ This Passion, Carol Anderson ed. Dance Collection Danse Press, Toronto, 1998, p. 142-149.


‘European Perceptions of Chinese Culture as Depicted on the 18th Century Ballet Stage,’ Music in Art, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 1-2, 2013.
‘Questioning Performing Arts Iconographic Research Methodology,’ International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue3, 2009, p335-344.
‘Looking at Pictures as Illustration in Dance History Texts,’ International Journal of the Arts in Society, Vol 3, Issue3, 2008, p39-46.
‘Dancing Your Way to Better Health’, Wellspring, Vol 17, Issue 5, 2006
‘Inside Her Mind,’ Dance Current, Vol 7, Issue 9, April 2005, p12-16.
‘Desire and the First Law of Motion,’ Dance Current, Vol 6, Issue 5, Nov 2003, p22-25.
‘Salish Dance Traditions,’ Viltis, Vol 43, No 3, Sept – Nov 1984, p18-19.

Conference Presentations

‘European Perceptions of Chinese Culture as Depicted on the 18th Century Ballet Stage.’ Paper presented at Images of Music Making and Cultural Exchange Between the East and the West; The Eleventh Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Iconography of the Performing Arts, Beijing, China, October 26-31, 2012.
‘Solving the Chinese Puzzle: Pointing Fingers at Dance Iconographic Research Design.’ Paper presented at Society of Dance History Scholars Annual Conference, Dance & Spectacle, University of Surrey, Guildford, London, UK. July 8-11, 2010.
‘Looking at Pictures as Illustration in Dance History Texts.’ Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference of the Arts in Society, Birmingham, U.K. July 27-30, 2008.
‘Losing Ground: Seeking Functional Support in the Landscape of Dance.’ Paper presented at 29th annual Society for Dance History Scholars Conference, Grounding Moves: Landscapes for Dance, Banff Centre, June, 2006


My formative years at the junior and senior Royal Ballet schools in London, England were characterized by a teaching style that was rigid and traditional. Intimidation and dismissive criticism were common teaching practices in the dance studio; shame, humiliation and fear were common student experiences. This approach to dance training in the name of excellence and perfection has taken much re-thinking on my part.

Students are inhibited from learning when they feel intimidated, humiliated, bullied, threatened, embarrassed, stupid, and foolish. I believe: teachers of dance can optimize the potential of their students, without resorting to the draconian methods of subjecting their class to a constant tirade of emotional and verbal abuse

Dance is the art of nonverbal communication, but language is the primary mode of communication in our society.  A dancer who does not develop facility with language will always be at a disadvantage. Dancers need to be able to think clearly, make logical arguments, express opinions, develop facility, perhaps even eloquence with the written and spoken word.  I constantly endeavor: to help students improve their skill with expressing their ideas through the written word, and thinking with language.

So much of dance class is spent waiting for extrinsic recognition: the words of praise, the look of encouragement, the correction of faulty technique, or just plain being noticed. When the student is not externally validated, so often a feeling of low-self esteem and a sense of failure ensues. Question: How can we teach students to become self validating? To dance for the intrinsic pleasure and love of dance and not for the crumbs of praise scattered judiciously by the teacher.  Is this the definition of dancing from the heart?

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