Technical Training, Research, and Experiential Learning
I believe that students learn best by doing: engaging in research; making decisions; directing a performance; choreographing a dance; learning choreography made by others; devising work; collaborating with others; writing; analyzing and evaluating ideas; contributing ideas.... The possibilities are endless. My classroom can be on a stage or in a site-specific location. It can also be in a defined dance space or lecture hall where I teach proper technique, alignment and body support, and history and theory-based courses. In all of my technique, performance, production, history, theory, and composition classes, I am thoughtfully careful and I offer individual corrections to ensure the safety and learning progression of each student. I ask questions and encourage the exploration of ideas, curiosities, and collaborative production.
The Partnership of History and Current Trends
How is dance defined? Who are the major contributors to the field of performance and cultural practice who came before us? Who are the thinkers, creators, question askers, and problem solvers who made art and lived dance before us? Who is performing and creating now? Who is writing and who has written? What are the current trends in movement studies, practice, and performance? How does all of this thinking, making, and experimenting, explode out of the classroom and connect globally to dance practices worldwide? These are the connections that I help to make for my students and one of the modes of inquiry that I encourage. It is important that in addition to teaching dance technique, production, and choreography, I teach the history and current trends of the expansive field as it relates to both western and non-western dance genres. This engagement with historical context and the future of the field informs my choices, my students’ choices, and sets an example of creative thinking, rigorous inquiry, and innovation.
A Safe Place for Experimentation and Mistakes (and growth and success)
On the first day of every class that I teach, I tell my students that they are in a safe place for experimentation and mistakes. Dance technique, dance composition, production, and scholarship are learned through practice, curiosity, experimentation, development, and reflection. I support the continued growth of my students by creating a framework and support system for bold choices and thoughtful strategies. I am attentive and persistent in my mentorship and guidance of my students. While I encourage questioning and exploring the unknown, I also provide a structure for thoughtfully engaged decision making.