As an educator with experience teaching students who are receiving their first taste of codified movement technique in my classroom, Advanced/Pre-professional dancers, and all levels in between, my expectations for my students often overlap. While I do not calculate technical and aesthetic achievement in the same way for each group, I urge all of my students regardless of level, to think of themselves as artists, dancers, and performers. What does it mean to move through space? How does a change of intent while dancing affect you (the dancer), the movement, or the audience? I give my students the tools to solve complicated movement tasks throughout my class so that when a question arises, they are able to make connections between previous ideas, and discover the answer themselves. By asking my students these questions I place agency in their hands so that they are active participants in their learning; I have found that this approach has a positive affect with both Intro students and more advanced dancers.
My goals and interests for students of all levels
The classroom is a place where students become dancers, and dancers become professionals. There is a constant flow of information that is transferred between the teacher and student, and student to teacher. In order for this partnership to work, both parties must be open to this dialogue and trust the other in this most vulnerable and beautiful place they share. Knowledge is not finite; the world of dance and education is a constant stream of information that passes freely between us. Whether I am teaching a class of Intro students, or dancers with extensive training, they are first and foremost people who are eager and open to learn. How they move in and around space is both personal and beautiful, and it is our job to encourage, refine, and investigate what makes each dancer an individual.
I grew up with ballet was my primary dance training, and my early exposure to the explosiveness and specificity of Balanchine technique has influenced my professional career, the movement I create, and how I conduct my class. While attending the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, my dance practice ranged from tap and jazz, to Classical modern (Graham, Taylor, Horton) and Release techniques. The various movement principles taught within these methods are tools that I incorporate into all the classes that I teach, whether they are ballet or modern, Intro or Advanced. In the current professional dance climate, it is important for dancers to move seamlessly between various techniques, with the ability to integrate movement principles from one practice to another. While the core technique should be adhered to, I do not believe that ballet and modern should be individualized and detached from one another. My ballet training combined with my professional career, has given me the unique physical perspective and experience of incorporating the technical virtuosity of classical ballet with the feeling of weightedness, the utilization of levels, and the pure physicality and possibility of off-centeredness that are characteristic of downtown and contemporary modern dance.
Intro to Modern Dance Class
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Selections of a 50 minute Intro to Modern Dance class : Floor work, Standing warm-up, Across the floor, Center floor movement combination.
If there is one idea that I can impress upon my students, it is the importance of individuality. Cookie-cutter aesthetics can be found in any studio, but an artist is someone who can translate who they are as a person to who they are as a performer. With every class I teach, I strive to find ways to make connections between life inside and outside of the studio. For Intro students, this idea helps them present themselves to the world with kinesthetic confidence; by feeling more at home in their bodies, the true potential of their mind can be unleashed. For dancers who aim for professional careers, the more ways that I can help them explore and embrace what makes movement beautiful on their body, the easier it will be to make movement their own. I do not seek perfection at the cost of a dancer’s body, mind or spirit but strive to enhance that which is already beautiful.