Heather Roffe

Background and expertise

Prof. Roffe joined Nazareth in 2012 while continuing her career as an international performer and choreographer. Soon after arriving at Naz, she took on the task of creating a dance major here. Her previous experience in marketing, business administration, and dance fused together in a two-year project of launching a new dance studies program at Nazareth. She continues to draw on all of those varied skills to produce professional dance festivals, curate performances, create new choreographic work, and present research across the country.

My academic passion

I am inspired by the ongoing discovery of the body and all the resources we each hold (but are barely, if at all, aware of). My goal is to teach students how to explore, care for, advocate for, and develop their own physicality and cognition, so that they become aware of constraints imposed by reductive norms and implied boundaries. My philosophy on teaching through constructivism and community informs every class.

Opening eyes to new worlds

I enjoy all the courses I teach but am especially jazzed by the creative facets of theoretical courses like Dance Improvisation and Methods of Dance Composition, which open students' eyes to worlds of thinking and application that they've never even considered, as a way to develop novel solutions to creative problems. The dance program focuses on seeing every student as a unique individual who is part of the fabric of a community.

Heather Roffe

The choreography of changemakers

Students really blossom in this environment, and it often gives them the confidence to step up to leadership roles, dive into off-campus experiences, or take creative risks. In that sense, our curriculum prepares students to be changemakers in their community every day. This drive comes from classes that provoke questioning of dominant narratives and tackling subjects that require interaction and problem-solving with their peers and others. Our program positions every student as a creator who starts with an idea, makes choices, collaborates, evaluates, and pursues something to fruition. All of these skills apply to change-making — and empathetic leadership. Some courses and internships specifically partner our students with underserved people off-campus, using dance as a tool to teach, build community, or heal.

Empowered through study

I strive to make dance studies come alive and engage students, by acknowledging and meeting them where they are. It's all about facilitating collaboration, encouraging student-directed learning, and giving students leadership opportunities.

Bringing everything together

I love to help students prepare for meaningful lives by guiding them toward and encouraging interdisciplinary pathways, validating their interests, and providing a platform and resources to make their academic and artistic work highly individualized.

dance students

"Heather Roffe represents what it means to be a true professor and mentor. From the first day we met at the audition for the dance studies admissions process, she made me feel welcome and inspired to pursue my passions for dance and public health. And to this day, we still stay in touch and she continues to be a great role model for me in everything I do."

- María J. Rodríguez-Torrado '20, a public health educator and freelance dancer in Puerto Rico