• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6218

Exiner, Johanna (Hanny)

(1918 – 2006)
  • Born 1 January, 1918, Vienna Austria
  • Died 29 December, 2006, Melbourne Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Dance educator, Dancer, Lecturer


Johanna Kolm was born in Vienna in 1918 and studied dance under Gertrud Bodenwieser from the age of four. Continuing to dance throughout her school years, Johanna completed a four year diploma at the Wiener Akademie fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst (the Vienna State Academy for Music and Drama). At the age of 19, Johanna joined Gertrud Bodenwiser’s dance company and toured Europe, South Africa and America.

After briefly living in Wellington, New Zealand, Johanna settled in Melbourne where she joined the Studio of Creative Dance (also known as the School of Viennese Creative Dance and the School of Creative Dancing) in Collins Street. In 1953 Johanna founded the Modern Ballet Group, which she co-directed with Margaret Lasica.

During the 1940s Johanna’s interest in child development and education saw her teaching dance classes at the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College. She completed her teaching training and, after spending some time in London, returned to Melbourne, where she became a member of staff at the Kindergarten Teachers College (from 1973 the State College of Victoria – Institute of Early Childhood Development). Alongside her colleague Phyllis Lloyd, Johanna established the Graduate Diploma in Music and Dance, as well as published two books for primary school teachers – Teaching Creative Movement and Learning Is Fun When You Dance It.

In 1977 Johanna co-founded the Australian Association for Dance Education (later renamed Ausdance), and was the first president of the Victorian Branch. In 1986 she was awarded Honorary Life Membership of Ausdance.

Throughout her career Johanna developed a passion for dance movement therapy. She published widely in this area, as well as creative movement education more generally. After retiring from full time work in higher education in 1982, Johanna opened the George Street Studio for Dance and Well-being where she ran community classes. In 1987 she was involved in the development of a Graduate Certificate in Dance Therapy which was offered periodically by the University of Melbourne until 1999.

Additionally, Johanna was a founding member of the Dance Therapy Association of Australia and a member of their committee for many years. She also served as the Association’s president from 1996 to 1997.

In 2001 the Hanny Exiner Foundation (now the Hanny Exiner Memorial Foundation) was established to provide financial assistance for people undertaking research in the field of dance movement therapy.


Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Hanny Exiner, 1939-1995 [manuscript]
  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Hanny Exiner interviewed by Michelle Potter [sound recording]
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Johanna Exiner, senior lecturer at the Institute of Early Childhood Development, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]

Related entries

  • Related Concepts
    • Dance