Lesley University Professor Dr. Vivien Marcow Speiser awarded Senior Scholar Fulbright

Long-time dance therapist to help establish first specialization training on the African continent

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Dance/movement therapist and Lesley University professor Dr. Vivien Marcow Speiser will return to her home country of South Africa as a Senior Scholar Fulbright in January 2020.

During her five-month fellowship, she will be stationed in the Drama for Life program at her undergraduate alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she will help establish the first academic dance therapy specialization training on the African continent.

Dance/movement therapy is based on the premise that the human body as well as the mind are instrumental for holistic healing.

“Trauma is housed in the body, so working with the body is a way of beginning to put into words that which is difficult to express,” Marcow Speiser said.

She learned that firsthand as a child growing up during apartheid.

“Dance offered me a way of sorting through the complexity of feelings I experienced in and around me, and created a pathway into the profession of dance therapy,” said Marcow Speiser.

After volunteering in a rehabilitation hospital during Israel’s Yom Kippur War, and witnessing the benefits that dance and movement could have on recovery, Marcow Speiser moved to the United States for college and, in 1975, joined Lesley’s first class of dance therapy students.

She has since worked in a variety of capacities, using her skills and passion for therapy, dance and social justice to help people locally and abroad. Marcow Speiser has worked with communities affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, co-facilitated a training for using expressive arts therapies in trauma prevention with Syrian refugees living in Jordan, and collaborated with the Israeli disaster relief organization IsraAID and Korean pastors and clinicians, following the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry that resulted in more than 300 deaths.

Marcow Speiser’s work across the globe has garnered recognition and made her an international leader in dance and expressive therapies. With the Fulbright honor, she will continue her work and wants to tap into the existing rhythms of music and dance that are woven through the rituals, traditions, ceremonies and beliefs of South Africa, with a view toward developing resources that can be used across the entire African continent.

About Lesley University

Lesley University empowers students to become dynamic, thoughtful leaders in education, mental health counseling, and the arts. Located in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to the world’s best-known universities, Lesley combines an intensely creative environment with the practical experience students need to succeed in their careers. Each year, more than 6,400 undergraduate and graduate students pursue degrees on campus, off site, online and through our low-residency programs. Along with our 86,000 alumni, they’re discovering the power of creativity to overcome obstacles, foster connections and reveal fresh answers to the world’s problems.