Michael Mansfield


Michael is an experienced teacher of dance and theater and a Leap Teaching Artist for over 20 years at many San Francisco and East Bay schools, grades K-2 have become his specialty. He returns to many schools year after year to teach dance and collaborate with teachers to accomplish their students' learning goals.

Since 1977, he has helped young people learn through the performing arts (dance, song, theater, music-making, puppetry, and clowning). His training includes an MFA in theater from The Acting Company at the Arts Educational School in London and a BA in Philosophy and English and Theater from St. Louis University. He has Master and Doctoral degrees in ritual, education, and the arts. Michael's dance background includes tap, jazz, ballet, modern, ballroom, historical dance, cultural/folk dance, musical theater, ice dance, improvisation, and creative movement, having studied dance since 1976 in London, New York, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and the Bay Area. He has an extensive background in African-Haitian Dance, sometimes known as Primitive Rhythms or as the Dunham Technique (created by pioneer choreographer and dancer Katherine Dunham). He has taught and/or studied world dance in Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

"I design learning experiences based on the questions, ideas, and concerns of the young people. Using the arts to do justice in education is my goal. Putting young people into direct physical contact with the body's wisdom, their cultural heritages, their imaginative worlds, their class subject matters, and their classroom community becomes my artistic intention. Changing the way we see ourselves, one another, and our world is the surprising end result. Besides the exuberant culminating performance event or graduation celebration, pure joy and knowledge of how to better move through the world are often two of the lingering side-effects students have when completing their dance experience with me. I have a contagious kinesthetic bias."

When not teaching dance to young people, he works with and teaches college students at UC Berkeley in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. He also engages adults in lifelong learning experiences at Aurora Theatre Company and The Marsh Theater. He co-directs the Berkeley Interactive Theater, a company of actors who train groups and communities around themes of race, class, religion, age, ability, and status using theater, grounded in the work and practice of Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed techniques.