The practice of dance inspires an empathy towards others, a sensitivity to relationships both within the body and between ourselves and the rest of the world, and a sense of bodily knowledge about who we are and what we believe—it is for these reasons that I feel that the practice of dance and dance-making are imperative in the twenty-first century.
In an effort to become more fully articulate movers, scholars and art makers, I help my students shed light on their habitual patterns so that they can make choices about how and why they make their work, rather than acting out of rote memorization or fear of the unknown. Whether it be through detailed discussions of movement pathways and effort qualities in an upper level technique class, or self-studies of movement habits in a choreography class, I endeavor to help my students find greater freedom through understanding the range and depth of their own choices.
I encourage my students to understand why something is important—not only as an object of study, but as a small piece of a larger picture. In addition to explaining and contextualizing ideas, I lead students through experiences so that they can come to know concepts both on a physical and intellectual level. In my modern dance history class, I guide students through a moving dance history time-line that draws from our study of major twentieth-century choreographers to add one movement each week to a growing dance. With this project, students are able to get inside the material that they’re studying and understand that movement is rich with meaning and context.
For me the dance studio is a porous incubator for ideas and experiences, and my hope is that students come to think of their time studying dance not as a siloed or rarified experience, but as part of their overall education and lives. As an active educator and dance-artist, I am continually asking questions and digging deeper into my own embodied practice, and I believe that this type of inquisitive modeling creates an atmosphere that encourages students to engage in enthusiastic and genuine investigation.