Marla Hansen: A dancer turned director

Marla Hansen: A dancer turned director

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Courtesy Aubrey Carlsen

Growing up, Marla Hansen’s father was in the Air Force, and consequently, they moved around often, which made for rather inconsistent training.

But whether or not she took ballet classes had little importance—what was most important was that she had a love for dance and she was surrounded with people who also had a love for dance.

Even today that love is still present as she continues to contribute to the dancing world right here at Boise State as director of the dance minor in the Theatre Arts Department.

“My dad, actually, when he was in college played on the Oregon State football team, and he took some ballet classes, so he’s the first person who taught me how to do an entrelace,” Hansen said.

Although her mother was not a dancer, Hansen did not hesitate to point out that she had always loved it, just had not been given any opportunities.

As Hansen grew up, she continued to learn and excel in the art. Many doors were opened up to her, but the journey was not without struggle.

Still, despite the many hardships she encountered along the way Hansen managed to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in ballet, dance professionally, choreograph numerous full-length ballets and other works, start her very own company (Idaho Dance Theatre), and all  the while raise a family with her husband and fellow dancer, Alfred Hansen.

“It’s admirable—how long she’s been dancing,” Amelia Oliphant, one of Hansen’s current students, said.

Hansen was determined from the beginning and she is determined even now as she continues to build up the dance program at Boise State.

Although her many accomplishments would make her seem all business, Hansen is far from boring.

“She still acts like a teenager, but in a good way,” Oliphant said.

While some teachers are of the opinion they must distance themselves from students in order to maintain successful, respectable relationships, Hansen has somehow managed to create uniquely balanced friendships between herself and her students.

“She respects her students, which in turn makes us respect her,” Oliphant said. “She really cares.”

Her determination has never failed her and continues to reach itself into all avenues of her life.

From her first lesson as a first grader, to her position as head of the dance minor at Boise State nearly 50 years later, it has been made pretty obvious she never quite lost that spark, and she probably never will.