Photos by Grant Halverson
Teaching is a lifestyle. It is a choice that affects general world perspectives, communication, and self-awareness. Dance education and body awareness can bring a powerful knowledge about the world and the body that can lead to self-empowerment and agency. I believe to understand the world one must first understand oneself. I bring this ideology into my classrooms by developing choice-making skills, confronting habits, re-evaluating alignment, and exploring how the body systems can produce healthy and creative movement choices. I rely on my teaching certifications in The Franklin Method to inform students on various body systems, their functions, and how to visualize different parts of the body to initiate and inform technical movement vocabulary. The goal is to move from the inside out, to ultimately be able to project an internal focus outward.
To achieve this, I teach by example. I approach each class experimenting with new approaches to technical vocabulary and aim to prioritize curiosity over absolutes. I always come to the studio prepared with set combinations, yet the needs of the class take precedence over the structure of each class meeting. From my students, I encourage the same approach of inquiry into the elements of technique – to question and discover what makes sense to them and their professional goals. I encourage student agency by asking more questions about their movement habits and approaches than dictating a right or wrong way of executing a move. I ask my second- and third-year students to keep a weekly journal of their commitment to technical inquiry outside of the classroom.
I see my role in the classroom as one of a demonstrator and personal guide. I consciously approach the teaching of new material through visual aids, imagery, and anatomical initiations to address various learning styles. There is a large focus on individual feedback in the classroom to address specific needs. I strongly encourage thoughtful discussion and questions in the studio to aid in the understanding and development of personal growth. I often ask the students join together as we explore different technical concepts through “lab days” in which we discover the different systems of the body and how they support a healthy execution of movement. Lab bodywork promotes an atmosphere of supported learning, active engagement in anatomy, and the usefulness of peer guidance.
The world needs a constant influx of new talent and new ideas. My classes are geared toward students who are interested in pursuing a professional career as a dance performer and/or choreographer. However, my priority is to promote dance enthusiasts and supporters. I find importance in educating the community on how to view dance, what to look for, the technical and artistic elements that go into dance performance and the potent language of crafting dance compositions. No matter the level or professional interest of my student base, I aim to ignite a keen interest in continued growth and exploration of the mind and body connection. The most important element a student should take away from my technique class is that the pursuit of knowledge never ends.