I am an independent dance artist, researcher and Somatic Movement Educator with 20 years experience in facilitating dance and movement practices and creating performance in diverse contexts including community, professional and Higher Education.
After graduating with a BA in Politics and Sociology in 1994, I became interested in developing further skills in dance and movement, a lifelong hobby. I was particularly interested in dance as a way of communicating and connecting with people and its power to evoke personal and social change. After studying dance for two years in 1996 I met Mary Prestidge and was introduced to Contact Improvisation. Mary’s inspirational teachings led me to seek further opportunities to develop my experience and practice with many of the pioneers of this form from the UK and USA.
My interest in the body, touch and healing continued to evolve which fed into my work as a facilitator in the community. For five years I worked as arts based youth worker for Liverpool Youth Service in socially and economically deprived areas. This work included creating dance performance with young people, sexual health education, building confidence and self-esteem and improving relations between local communities and asylum seekers through the arts.
As Community Dance Artist for Merseyside Dance Initiative, I developed work with older people, pregnant women, disabled children and young people and open sessions for dancers and the wider community. Whilst at MDI in 2006 I initiated my relationship with Alder Hey Children’s hospital and became their first Dance Artist in Residence.
I was invited by Cath Hawkins to join Small Things in 2003, initially as performer and in 2008 we made the work I had initiated at Alder Hey a Small Thing’s Project. This was supported by Edge Hill University between 2007-15 through my role there as Senior Lecturer in Dance.
With the arrival of my first daughter in 2005 I became fascinated by the developmental process and deepened my interest and study in the Somatic Practice, Body Mind Centering. My daughters have become central to my creative practice and my experience as a mother greatly enhances my learning and all aspects of my work. In 2010 I graduated from the School of Body Mind Centering as a Somatic Movement Educator (SME). This approach to dance-making was at the core of my MA Dance Studies, with which I graduated from LJMU in 2007.
My work in all contexts is underpinned by a joy for play. In recent years I have been drawn towards the Brazilian art form of Capoeira, training with Mestre Parente and the group Cordao de Ouro. I am captivated by the playful yet complex relations created within the roda.
Independently as well as creating my own work, I have enjoyed performing with Figure Ground, Andrea Buckley Collaborations and Liverpool Improvisation Collective. I also led several projects in a children's hospice and at a residential care home for Dance Art Foundation, as part of the Breathing Space programme.
Dowler, L (2017) ‘Harry: the story of a child in hospital’, in Tufnell, M (ed) Dance Health and Imagination, pp 192-197 Dance Books
Dowler, L (2016) ‘Can somatic dance practices reduce acute pain for children and young people in hospital?’ Journal of Nursing Children and Young People.
Dowler, L (forthcoming) ‘Instinctive Connections: Improvisation as a research methodology in health and care settings,’ in Midgelow, V. Oxford Handbook on Improvisation in Dance.
Dowler, L (2013) ‘Invisible Duets: multiple modes of documenting the significance of dance to health’, Animated Oct 2013 pp 9-11
Dowler, L (2013) ‘Improvising on the ward: Exploring somatic dance and potential in paediatric health care’, Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 4.2 pp 163-178
Dowler, L (2010) ‘Improvising on the Ward’, Animated, Oct 2010
Dowler, L (2010) ‘A space to create’ in Tufnell, M. Dance, health and well being handbook: Pathways to practice for dance leaders working in health and care settings. pp 63-64 Foundation for Community Dance.