Solveig Santillano is originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where her early studies revolved around community theatre and dance. Placing first in regional, state, and national oral interpretation contests in the category of dramatic interpretation followed multiple intensive programs at institutions such as Northwestern University, The Circle in the Square Theatre Program, Boston Ballet, and Harvard Summer Dance Program. Concluding a year of liberal studies at Augustana College and a year-long internship with The Children’s Theatre Company (MN), Santillano moved to NYC and enrolled in the Juilliard School of Dance as a BFA candidate, during which time she immersed herself in the field of dance, spending summers working as an apprentice at Northwestern University (NHSI), performing as lead actress of Paul Green’s production of The Lost Colony, in North Carolina, and doing pick-up work with local artists.
Upon graduation, Santillano remained in New York City to continue to dance with Anna Sokolow’s Player’s Project, Ruby Shang and Dancers, and Neta Pulvermacher’s Off the Wall Dance Company before moving to Los Angeles and later Boston, where she continued to collaborate on special projects and perform with such artists as Moses Pendelton, Vince Patterson, Diane Arvanites (Prometheus Dance) Nancy Compton, Richard Colton & Amy Spencer, and Boston Arts Group. Throughout her performance career, Santillano has taught locally for organizations including H.T. Chen & Dancers (NYC), Lexington School of Ballet (MA), Springfield Ballet, Lake Erie Ballet, Inner Balance Pilates, and she headed the dance department for two years at Salem State University as a visiting instructor. Upon her return to New York City, Santillano joined the renowned Momix Dance Company, where she toured internationally as a soloist, collaborated on new works and special projects, and taught master classes around the world in a full-time capacity for six years. Now serving as an associate professor in the Mercyhurst University Dance Department, she is based in Erie, PA, where Santillano lives, teaches, dances, serves as advisor to the National Honor Society for Dance Arts and the Yoga Club, and is co-artistic director, choreographer, and performer of SoMar Dance Works, the in-residence contemporary dance company at Mercyhurst University that she and her partner (Mark Santillano) co-founded in 1999. Solveig and Mark were awarded the 2016 Established Artist Fellowship through Erie Arts & Culture, and their company, SoMar Dance Works, has been the recipient of Pennsylvania Partners of the Arts Grant Funding for the past decade.
In support of her role as an artist educator, Santillano has a thirst for higher education. She earned an M.A.L.S. with an emphasis in movement studies from Wesleyan University, where she was the recipient of the Rulewater Prize for her thesis on The Effects of Hatha Yoga on Contemporary Dance: Practices, Pitfalls, & Possibilities. She additionally earned multiple yoga certifications through Open Sky Yoga, has her advanced training certification in Restorative Yoga from Judith Hansen Lasater, holds a 500 hour certification through the Yoga Alliance and an M.F.A. in dance from Hollins University, where she studied Theory, Phenomenology, History, in addition to somatic disciplines, performance and dance arts through the American Dance Festival. Santillano is deeply fueled by the creative process. She is co-artistic director, choreographer, and performer of SoMar Dance Works, the in-residence contemporary dance company at Mercyhurst University that she and her partner co-founded in 1999.
Santillano has a passion for collaborations that bring meaning, build community, and create awareness about issues of social concern and injustice. Her projects have included themes such as cancer (Laura’s Grace), mental health (Dis-Ease: A Coming Out), human trafficking (Project Abolition), gender (In Her Shoes), and environmental science (The Ripple Effect), the later involving over 6 community partners, 12 departments, numerous local artists and 60 volunteers. As a student of life, Santillano is in the process of completing a four-year certification in teaching dance from Bill Evans and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being in nature, mentoring students, deepening her yoga and meditation practices, reading, attending workshops, and presenting at organizations such as Sandra Fraleigh’s EastWest Somatic Conference, Bill Evans International Somatic Dance Conference, American College Dance Association, and performing regionally, nationally, and internationally with her students, local artists, colleagues, collaborative partner, and dance company.
BFA Juilliard School of Dance
M.F.A. Hollins University/ADF
M.A.L.S. Wesleyan University
Essential Yoga Teacher Training; Open Sky Yoga
Advanced Teacher Training; Open Sky Yoga
Relax & Renew Advanced Trainer
R.Y.T. @ 500 hours
Candidate for certification with Bill Evans Method of Teaching Dance
Awards & Honors:
Pennsylvania Partner of the Arts 2006-2016
Erie Arts & Culture Established Artist Fellowship 2016
Choreography I, II, III, IV
Global Perspectives Through Yoga
Modern II, III
Faculty Advisor for
National Honor Society for Dance Arts
National Dance Education Organization
Society of Dance History Scholars/CORD