Hello! My name is Hiie Saumaa. Welcome to my website!
I dance, teach, and write about movement and creativity.
I teach somatic dance and somatic strength training. “Somatic” means that we focus on inner perception of movement, how we feel when we move and what we sense in our body, mind, heart, and soul.
I write about somatic techniques, of the past and the present. I also write about the creativity of choreographers, dancers, and movement educators. I study their writings, philosophical ideas, visual art, and dance.
As a little girl growing up in Estonia, I wanted to become a pianist and a gymnast. I sang in choirs and ensembles and practiced my recorder. Later I studied the flute and instrumental conducting at Heino Eller Music School in my hometown Tartu, in Estonia. I even worked as an assistant conductor for a while! I loved reading and writing too. I painted in oil pastels, sketched, and drew.
I grew fascinated with language and with the English language in particular. I majored in English at the University of Tartu and continued my studies in Mississippi, Tennessee, and New York. An avid fan of exercise, I got certified in Pilates, Group Fitness, Step Aerobics, and Nutrition and started teaching fitness classes next to my academic studies.
During my doctoral studies at Columbia University, where I was writing my dissertation on early twentieth-century British literature and meditation, I discovered Nia dance, the BodyLogos© Technique, and JourneyDance™ in my neighborhood gyms and dance studios. In these somatically attuned classes, I realized how powerful movement can be for physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, and for creativity and artistic expression. When I was not in a dance class, I was reading about dance and physical awareness.
I committed myself to dancing and writing about movement and the body. I became a certified teacher of Nia, BodyLogos©, and JourneyDance.™After I graduated from Columbia, I started to write about dance, kinetic imagination, meditation, embodiment, and the connections between movement and writing. I received a fellowship from the Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts where I worked in the archives of the American choreographer Jerome Robbins. I continued to work on Robbins’ multiartistry when I moved to Paris as an inaugural fellow at the Institute for Ideas & Imagination.
As a fellow at the Institute, I lived at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, where artists and creative thinkers do their residencies. I started to collaborate with visual artists on performance and dance projects, developing a somatic approach to dance making. Now I choreograph or set scores for dance/art performances and organize workshops for artists on the role of movement and the body in the artistic process. I continue to teach both movement classes and academic courses in dance history, embodied research, and writing.
I feel like when I dance, write, or read about dance and the body, many different parts of me – my imagination, my soul, and my body – are animated. My mind starts dancing too! Dancing and writing about dance make me feel alive, connected to myself, other people, the places around me, the natural environment, and the world. Through my movement classes, workshops, and writings, I want to inspire others to discover the power of movement and dance.
Dance and movement are an amazing resource for healing, wellbeing, love for life, a sense of community and belonging, and for getting in touch with our greatest teacher – the body. I bow in gratitude in front of all my teachers and students that I have had the honor to meet on this path.