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Check Out Nancy Dobbs Owen’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Dobbs Owen.

Hi Nancy, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
My story… I feel like there are a million paths that have led me to where I am now. I grew up in the Bay Area. I was always an artistically inclined child; drawing, crafting, and sewing. I found my niche late, at the age of 14, when I joined a local dance studio and discovered both a love of and a talent for dance.

I became a ballet dancer, eventually working both in New York as an apprentice for the Joffrey Ballet (yes youngsters, they used to be in NY!) and dancing regionally throughout the country as a principal dancer for ballet, modern and theatrical dance companies. During this time I also earned a BA from the University of CA, Irvine in Dance. I expanded into the musical theater when I was cast as a dancer and Meg cover for the first national company of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, which was a sit-down company in residence at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. I feel that I earned a second degree while with that production! I learned how to sing, earned my AEA, SAG, and AFTRA cards, and began to find my own voice as an artist. I also started down a second career path, making handcrafted jewelry and working as a stylist. Finally, I started my life’s work as an activist, combining my artistic endeavors with fundraising and awareness campaigns. I moved to LA in 2008, where I started to teach and build upon the choreography practice that had just begun in the Bay Area. I also added much more film and television work as a performer to my resumé. I have had amazing experiences in LA, working on commercials, and TV shows such as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, VEEP, American Princess, and Ratched.

I have been lucky enough to dance in feature films such as Deadwood and Music. I have also had wonderful theater experiences; dancing for the LA Philharmonic, doing numerous stage productions, and building a serious choreography resumé in film, video, and most importantly to me, on stage. I started writing for dance publications in 2018 and earned my MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts with a Performance Creation Concentration just this June. I currently serve as the Program Coordinator and Student Mentor for the Commercial Dance Department at Hussian College Los Angeles/In the studio. My email signature says; Dance: Creator/Educator/Writer/Dreamer and that pretty much sums it up!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
No. It has not. I honestly do not believe that you can be a performing artist and have a smooth road. There are always bumps, both personal and systemic. I experienced all of the “normal” issues prevalent in the dance world; anorexia, injury, abuse, and harassment. Much of my experience guides me today, as a teacher, writer, creative researcher, and academic. I fiercely believe that those experiences should not be normalized. My work is to take down those institutions and systems that protect those cycles of abuse and the continued consolidation of power in white patriarchy. Until dance leadership is representative of the entire dance community, there is extensive work to be done.

I have also had life incidents: a car accident during my Phantom years (which indirectly led to my jewelry business as I used making earrings as therapy!) and more recently, a dooring incident here in LA which severely injured me and from which I am still in recovery. This last accident has been difficult to come back from, both physically and emotionally. I am so grateful to my mentors and to the beautiful dance artists (particularly Paula Thomson, Malaya, Denise Leitner, Terri Best, and Ido Tadmor) who have let me cry through their classes as I find my way back into my body and reconnect with my spirit. I don’t have a car, so finding my way back to my bike was also a challenge. But, I am back, and my Instagram bio: Movement-based, music-inspired, plant-fueled creative navigating LA on a bike is once again the truth!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
This is such a hard question! When I found my master’s program I finally felt seen: Interdisciplinary Arts. That said, I am a dancer. That identity is my heart and soul. The tentacles from that core identity reach into choreography, teaching, and writing, and then further into both acting and singing. I am also a designer, a stylist, and an activist. In whatever form it exists, my art is created to illicit change, both in what it says and more often, in how it is made. My creative teams are diverse. I pay everyone involved, I strive to make work that illicit conversation and action. I create the art for the world that I want, not the world that is. My jewelry designs are sold to raise monies for causes. My writing, I hope, speaks truth to power and makes people think. Though the means with which I strive for change ebb and flow, moving from stage to film, from selling jewelry to writing editorials, the intent to create and support an evolving world stays consistent. I hope and work to always be open to constructive criticism, for we can’t move forward if we don’t admit to harming done in the past. I collaborate with other activist creatives and do my very best to support them in any way possible.

Pride is funky for me and something that I struggle with. I do love the work that I did for the Marina Del Rey Symphony, working with an incredible group of dancers and musicians for summer concerts in 2018 and 2019. We hope to return next summer! One of my all-time favorite projects is the music video, Too Many Bodies ( which is a call to action for common sense gun reform, unfortunately as timely today as when it premiered in 2018. I’m finding pride in my poetry and gathering work to publish my first collection.

What do you think about happiness?
I am incredibly shy. Being outgoing and public-facing is exhausting to me, so honestly, the thing that brings me the most joy is coming home to my best friend, my tiny cat Sprite. Her purrs and snuggles bring me back to myself and allow me to be fragile, vulnerable, and real. It is a little contradictory because I am very transparent; in my teaching, my writing, and in my poetry, but there is always a journey to get to that level of openness. When I am snuggling my cat, there is no mask at all. And that makes me happy.

I am also incredibly happy when a student has a breakthrough when I am able to donate to a needy cause, when my choreography moves people and when the words that I put on a page make sense and evoke a deep response from a reader. And I love to dance, so am always happy when dancing.


  • Jewelry: $30-$500
  • Private coaching: $120/hour
  • Choreography rates depend on the project
  • Dance Agent: Go 2 Talent Agency
  • Manager: Eileen O’Farrell Management

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Joanna Degeneres Photography, American in Paris, GingerSole Photography, and Michael Higgins Photography

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