Assistant Professor & Resident Choreographer

Paula Higa is a Brazilian-born American choreographer and dancer who has been creating dances, teaching, and performing for more than 30 years between Brazil and the USA. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor and Resident choreographer in the School of the Arts - Theater & Dance Program. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and a B.S in Chemical Engineering (Brazil), a certification in PBT - Progressing Ballet Technique, and lots of experience within the performing arts.

She is the founder and artistic director of PHD – Paula Higa Dance. As a performer, she danced in the works of Mark Morris, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Larry Keigwin, Jennifer Monson, Tiffany Rhynard, Laurel Jenkins, Clare Byrne, among others. Her work was presented at Triskelion Arts in NYC, Boston, Texas, Central United States, and Brazil.

She is the recipient of the NEFA - New England Dance Fund Grant, UVM - Coor Collaborative Fellows Award, Vermont Community Foundation - Artist Grant, Vermont Arts Council, OVPR Express Grant, and UVM Faculty Development Grant for the Arts.  Accolades include the Best Screendance in Los Angeles, Genres and Performances Film Festival in Aveiro, Portugal, Diorama International Film Festival in India, 2022 Nukhufest in NYC, and the ARFF - Around International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany.

Paula Higa in the news:

UVM dance lecturer Paula Higa's duet found inspiration in two poems by early 20th-century Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca. Titled "The Woman That I Would Like to Be," the piece deals with themes of violence against women and will be danced by members of Higa's company, Paula Higa Dance 

"It's very aggressive in terms of movement. I want to show the kind of violence that we suffer in daily life," in physical, emotional and other realms, Higa said. The piece works with a duality, she continued: "Are you the woman who is experiencing the violence, or are you the angry woman? The characters, the dancers, switch places."

Awards and Grants
Paula Higa was awarded a Bronze Medal for her dance film, The One I Wanted to Be by the Independent Shorts Awards (ISA), an international film festival.
• Paula Higa was awarded the Coor Collaborative Fellowship Award by the UVM Humanities Center in support of her and Jenn Karson's project, Intermedia + Technology.
• Paula Higa receives a New England Foundation for the Arts Grant to support the creation of Urbano a new work that will focus on the urban environment and the impact that big cities can cause on an individual's life.
• Paula Higa receives the Vermont Community Foundation Grant to support her dance film The One I Wanted to Be
• Paula Higa receives the Vermont Arts Councils - Artist Development Grant to support her dance film Holding the Center Still in collaboration with visual artist Debra Weisberg
• Paula Higa receives the Vermont Community Foundation Grant to support her project The Migrant Body

Paula Higa

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

contemporary dance; ballet; Brazilian dance; dance history/culture


  • MFA Dance, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • BS Chemical Engineering, Universidade Santa Cecilia
  • Teacher Certification Program, Royal Academy of Dance (São Paulo, Brazil)


  • 802-656-7763
Office Location:

Old Mill Building, Room 332


Courses Taught

DNCE 011 - Contemporary Dance I

DNCE 012 - Contemporary Dance II

DNCE 111- Contemporary Dance III

DNCE 112 - Contemporary Dance IV

DNCE 021 - Ballet I

DNCE 022 - Ballet II

DNCE 121 - Ballet III

DNCE 033 - D2: Brazilian Dance

DNCE 060 - Movement & Improvisation

DNCE 177 - Site Performance Practicum

DNCE 050 - Dance History and Legends

DNCE 005 - D2:World Dance