lau photo

Holly Lau

Professor Emeritus, Department of Theatre & Dance

3745 Central Ave., Theatre Building, Room 144
Office Hours
On Sabbatical for 2021-2022

About Holly Lau

Holly Lau joined the faculty in August 1991. She teaches Dance History, Contemporary Dance, Dance Composition, Dance Movement Analysis, Improvisation and Performance Fundamentals. In 2012 she received the Benjamin Rawlins, Jr. Meritorious Professorship Award, in 2007 she was named and Dean's Creative Achievement Award Winner and in 1993 she received the Superior Performance in Research Award. Lau is a member of Playback Memphis, an improvisational company that works with underserved communities to help them tell their stories. Most recently she has collaborated with Memphis Police Officers and Ex-felons to create healing through theatre as part of Be the Peace. Her solo work with text, Portal, was featured in August 2014 at Bearnstow's 2014 end of session performance.


MFA in Dance, The Ohio State University, 1991; BA Summa Cum Laude in Theatre, The University of Southern Maine, 1974;



  • Chair of Theatre & Dance 2012 - 2020
  • Full Professor of Theatre & Dance 2007
  • Company Member and Co-Artistic Director for Project:Motion Dance- 2004-2007
  • UofM Director of Dance 1998-2002
  • Teaching Artist for Lincoln Center Arts in Education Program 1995-2002
  • Creator, writer, facilitator and artistic director for the first arts-integration education model for the Memphis City School District
  • Hand-in-Hand, Arts Integration Model for Bruce Elementary School (a K-6 at-risk population) 1994-1999
  • Arts in Education Consultant for the Delta Arts Institute, Wolf Trap Early Childhood Education in the Arts, Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Center Institute.

Research and Scholarly Activities

Research Interests

Teaching interests: Solo performance, Text and Dance, Dance and Community Building, Arts in Education, Women's Studies

Creative Research (selected):

  • Playback Memphis Ensemble Member 2009- present
  • Portal, text and dance solo performance, Mt Vernon Maine 2014
  • Swath, dance for eight, Dance Space 2009
  • Transgressions (Three instances), The University of Northampton, UK, Providence College, The Ohio State University, Cornell University, Wells College 2005
  • RiverDreams, quartet, state wide tour, 2004-2005
  • Baggage, duet, The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa 1993

Published Research (selected):

  • StartSmart Dance Experience Plans. Startsmartnetwork.org. Fall 2005
  • Creative Partnerships-Extending Contexts. Proceedings for Hawaiian International Conference on Arts and Humanities. Spring 2003
  • Dances I am Eager to See,Teaching across race, class and gender. Standpoint. Center for Research on Women. Fall 2003. V 22, N. 1
  • Editor for The Newsletter of the Society of Dance History Scholars. Memphis, The University of Memphis, 1995-1997
  • The Child as Work of Art: Blending Art and Academics in the Curriculum through the Arts/Bruce Connection , Proceedings of Border Crossings Conference The Society of Dance History Scholars 10 - 14 May 1995
  • Riverside: The University of California The Negro Spirituals: Memphis Today; The History and Politics of Its Reconstruction. Proceedings of Dance Reconstructed Conference The Society of Dance History Scholars, 16 & 17 Oct. 1993. Toronto, Canada.