University of Calgary

Anne Flynn

  • Professor Emerita of Kinesiology

Research Interests

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


Anne Flynn, Professor Emerita, was a member of the dance faculty from 1978-2015 and continues to work as a dance and movement education advocate.  She joined the university as the contemporary dance specialist in the Dance Education Route in the Faculty of Physical Education and worked with dance faculty in the Faculty of Fine Arts to develop the collaborative B.A. Dance degree launched in 1996.  Holding a joint appointment in the Faculties of Kinesiology and Fine Arts, she was instrumental in the creation of the five-year combined B.Kinesiology/B.A.Dance in 2013, the only degree of its kind in Canada. She served as Chair of the Division of Dance from 2002-2007, Artistic Director of Dance Montage for over twent-five of its fifty years, and Manager of the Dance program's Urban Dance Connect (UDC), a broad ranging downtown community-university initiative, from 2005-2013. UDC created partnerships with the CIty of Calgary, The Alex Senior's Health Centre, The Salvation Army Centre of Hope, the Calgary Board of Education, the Art Gallery of Calgary, the Golden Age Club and the YWCA.

Flynn danced with Denise Clarke throughout the 1980’s, showing work in Canada, New York, and Berlin.  She and Clarke performed in the inaugural season of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD), as well as in other works created by DJD’s co-founder Vicki Adams Willis.  Flynn’s exposure to the field of dance studies at Wesleyan University resulted in a shift of focus and she began publishing Dance Connection Magazine with Heather Elton and Lisa Doolittle (1988-1996).  She is Co-Editor with Lisa Doolittle of Dancing Bodies, Living Histories (Banff Centre Press, 2000) receiving the 2001 Gertrude Lippincott Prize for their joint publication “Dancing in the Canadian Wasteland”.  The two continued working together until 2017 on several SSHRC funded projects (Foothills and Footsteps: New Writing in Dance Studies (1999); and Assimilating Bodies: Regulation and Resistance in Canada's Choreography of Nationhood (2003-2007), publishing in numerous anthologies and giving many conference presentations nationally and internationally about the role of dance in Canada’s nation-building project.

As a Co-Investigator on a national SSHRC Partnership Grant (2013-2018) studying Arts for Social Change, Flynn developed multi-organizational partnerships to create Dancing Parkinson’s YYC at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (, and the University Heights Dance and Movement program for senior citizens.  Both programs continue to thrive.

Flynn became President of the U.S.-based Congress on Research Dance (CORD) in 2015 and oversaw its merger into the Dance Studies Association (DSA) in 2017 (  She served as President and Past-President of DSA from 2017-2020 for which she received the Dixie Durr Award for Outstanding Service to Dance Research.  She has also served on the boards of the Alberta Dance Alliance (President 1987-1990), Dance Connection Magazine (President 1991-96), Dancers’ Studio West (President 2000-2004) as an Advisory Board member for the Canadian Society for Dance Studies (2000-2011) and DanceCollectionDanse (2007-current).

In 2022 she convened students in kinesiology and dance to create the Dance and Health Study Group and launched its first project, ESDF+, a collaboration with East Side Dance Festival and the Faculty of Kinesiology, in 2023.


My research has been composed of both creation/performance and research/writing. In the earlier stages of my career I collaborated with Canadian dancer/actor Denise Clarke from 1981 to 1988. Clarke/Flynn produced a number of evening length concerts in addition to many other individual works that were performed in Calgary, in other national venues, and internationally. In 1987, Lisa Doolittle and I co-founded Dance Connection magazine with editor Heather Elton. Dance Connection was a blend of critical writing and in-depth articles on different aspects of dance published bi-monthly in Calgary, and was the first dance magazine in Canada to regularly include the work of multicultural artists. Dance Connection explored the relationship between dance and cultural studies and promoted a dance studies perspective in its editorial choices. From 1987-1996 I served as President of the board of directors, content specialist, editorial consultant, and writer.

Since the late 1980s I have focused on Alberta dance history, conducting oral history interviews with key figures in the Alberta dance community and publishing the work in various anthologies. In 1998 I produced the Dance Education advocacy video Dance: For Our Children, which summarizes the research on the value of lifelong participation in dance. The video won two top awards from the Association for Media and Technology in Education in Canada, and was part of an advocacy project to include dance in the public school system in Alberta.

Teaching Philosophy and Areas of Specialization

My first dance teacher was my dad. We spent many hours tap dancing and singing in the kitchen and these early dance experiences, characterized by playfulness and joy, have remained the cornerstone of my approach to teaching.

I have been drawn to dance in part because of its potential to transform us. The act of dancing requires a particular type of concentration/participation and the result is often a heightened awareness in all of our senses. Dancing wakes us up and attunes us to the people and things around us. People consistently report that they feel better when they walk out of a dance studio than they did when they walked in. The simple outcome of dancing, a robust movement activity, is that it can help us feel well.

My main area of focus in the studio has been Contemporary dance technique and improvisation, though I have also taught a wide range of social dance forms. I have taught structured improvisation to professional dancers, beginning dancers, and non-dancers from all walks of life; I have been teaching improvisation to cancer patients since 2003. In all of these settings the consistent element is working with simple ideas about paying attention to our movement choices and probing the relationship between thinking, sensing and feeling. I also teach introduction to dance and dance pedagogy for Kinesiology students, as well as Dance Studies and conditioning for dancers. Since 2005 I have helped coordinate a weekly dance program for senior citizens living in downtown Calgary.

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