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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Jamie McHugh


Jamie McHugh (1954- ) was born in Washington, D.C. on December 10, 1954, the second oldest of five siblings. Raised Catholic, he attended several parochial schools during his early education, including a high school year in London where he first came in contact with dance at performances of Bejart's choreography. He also showed early interests in the politics of resistance, participating in several public demonstrations.

Jamie attended the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, studying a liberal arts program and recieved his BS degree in education with a focus on creative arts therapy. While working in Madison with children and as a recreation program director with developmentally disabled adults, Jamie found that dance provided intergration of his social activism, artistic and expressive interests, and somatic energies. Jamie also observed Nikolais at work and learned about creative strategies towards achieving transpersonal goals; he also choreographed several solo works and eventually found a niche teaching creative movement to children. 

While exploring contemporary dance in Santa Cruz, California and Boulder, Colorado-based workshops, he met Anna Halprin and began Tamalpa Institute's training program. Jamie became an assistant to Anna Halprin and, among other teaching responsibilities, contributed to the development and direction of her somatic programs for people with cancer and HIV-positive men and Circle the Earth, Halprin's ritual event for people challenging life-threatening illness. In addition, Jamie has studied several other somatic learning modalities including the Alexander Technique, Release Technique, Dance Therapy and Body/Mind Centering, earning an MA degree in Movement Studies from Sierra University. 

Jamie created solo and ensemble performance works which reflect his experince with AIDS. His piece "Alive at the Edge" has been performed around the United States and in Europe in both educational and community dance venues and also at conferences dealing with AIDS and HIV-infection. After two years in Switzerland, he returned to the Bay Area.

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