|A fundamental function of dance in tertiary education is to develop highly skilled, creative artists who are curious about how their art can affect the wider community. I desire my students to be socially conscious individuals who challenge established ideologies in the field but also respect the historical contributions of our pioneers. I hope that my students feel empowered to imagine that their art can contribute something pertinent and useful to the world. I feel that I have succeeded as an educator when my students feel hopeful and confident that they can create opportunities for themselves in the larger artistic community.
I achieve my desired outcome by integrating rigorous and exacting physical studio practice based in traditional dance techniques (Classical Ballet, Graham, Horton, Limon), somatic principles of the Alexander technique and contextualizing the historical significance of these methodologies to stimulate and engage young artists. I believe in a structured classroom where the content delves deeply into technical details that will yield positive results when students work with focus and consistency. For me, the ‘art’ of dance is not separate from the studio practice: as students learn technique I ask them to consider how it can be enlivened to communicate so that their dancing might transition organically to the stage. I also try to engage them by my own example, as they observe how I express my artistic perspective through my choreography and my desire for a thorough approach to technique and artistry in my continued performing in the professional field.
I encourage my students to have a sense of urgency in their approach to learning and to understand that their studio practice is meant to enable performance. I try to foster an atmosphere where my students may ask questions; however I also stress the importance of self-directed research to deepen their understanding of the craft. I attempt to help students understand that they are on a continual path of ‘becoming’ through self-discovery and a deep investigation of the choreographic process and their bodies. This might enable the student to learn the means by which to self-motivate, investigate and discover career possibilities in the field in a way that might satisfy their desires.
Through my approach I hope to share the tools leading to effective problem solving and critical thinking. My method of teaching is based on a model of a student-centered classroom where the traditions of classical ballet and codified modern dance technique can be interpreted for the individual body. I work so that each student might arrive at her or his own destination – based on her/his particular set of abilities – to achieve excellence.
I feel teaching is the most significant contribution that I can make to society: through my work in the classroom I hope to support an environment where my students can become self-reflective and self-accessing. These lessons go far beyond the classroom and can potentially have a meaningful impact when the student engages their communities.
photo by Adrian Richards