Jane Peterson, Tower Bridge, ca. 1907; Oil on canvas, 17 ¾ x 23 ½ in.; Gift of Alice D. Kaplan

08 - 01 - 2017


The English dancer and choreographer, later naturalized as Chilean, has worked tirelessly to promote dance and preserve the memory of the musician, theater director, and political activist Víctor Jara.

Joan Turner entered Sigurd Leeder’s Dance School in 1947. She complemented her training at Ballet Jooss in London, an institution that allowed her to tour a large part of Europe: she performed in West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Scotland, and Ireland. In Germany, she met Chilean choreographer, dancer, and actor Patricio Bunster, whom she married in 1954. She came to our country with him and joined the Chilean National Ballet Company, where she was a dancer and later a choreographer.

After the birth of their daughter Manuela (in 1960), the couple separated. She then married the young theater director and singer-songwriter Víctor Jara, with whom she had her second daughter, Amanda.

After Víctor Jara’s death a few days after the military coup, Joan was forced into exile with her two daughters. In London, she changed her name from Joan Turner de Jara to Joan Jara.

She created the Víctor Jara Foundation and has endeavored to increase the profile of dance in our country at both a university and a grassroots level. On March 3, 2009, Chile’s Chamber of Deputies approved the bill that granted her honorary Chilean citizenship.

In 1999, the Municipality of Santiago conferred on her its Dance Award. In 2000, Universidad de Chile recognized her professional career and her contributions to dance, and in 2004, as part of the celebration of the International Dance Day, she received an award from her peers.

In December 2016, the Chilean Government bestowed on her the “Pablo Neruda Order of Artistic and Cultural Merit” due to her contributions as a teacher and dancer. In a ceremony held at La Moneda Palace, President Michelle Bachelet stated that “for us, Chileans living in the second half of the 20th and the 21st century, Joan has been a wise and energetic guide who always reminds us of the value of art, memory, and the deep meaning of dignity”.

About her role in dance

As a dancer in the Chilean National Ballet, she played major roles in pieces that helped establish professional dance in Chile. Within the context of the university reform of the 1960s, Joan founded and directed the children’s dance teaching program at Universidad de Chile. She was also a teacher of Modern Technique, Eukinetics, and Coreutics at the same university, at the Espiral Dance Center, and at Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, where she also founded the Dance School and was granted an emeritus professorship.

“Joan has had a lengthy career and has contributed enormously to the training of dancers and the development of dance in our country”, the National Union of Dance Workers (SINATTAD) declared on a statement announcing the launch of Joan Jara’s candidacy for the 2017 National Arts Award.




Special thanks


    • Andrea Cuomo
    • Andrés Rodríguez Perez
    • Carlos Moran
    • Cecilia Echeñique
    • Comité Calificador de Donaciones Culturales
    • Embajada de Chile en Estados Unidos
    • Estela F. Garafulich Adult Literacy Programe
    • Francisca Florenzano
    • Javier Mendicute
    • Javiera Parada
    • Jurado Concurso de Canto 2014-15
    • Jurado Concurso “Mujeres en la Música II”
    • Jurado Final “Cartas de Mujer”
    • Jurado Preselección “Cartas de Mujer”
    • Kingston Family Vineyards, Casablanca Valley
    • María José Viera Gallo
    • Mario Agliati
    • Mica Kaufmann
    • Michelle Landa
    • Nieves Edwards
    • Roberto Sepúlveda
    • Rodrigo Espinosa
    • Teatro Corpartes 660
    • Teruca Martinez
    • Ximena Sahli
    • Viñamar y Castillo de Molina
    • Viña Veramonte