My pedagogical method has been informed by the integration of my formal university dance training, my work as a guest artist, my teaching experience, my professional dance experience, and my professional choreographic experience. A goal in both my teaching and choreographic endeavors stems from the investigation of emotional risks exposing truths on social equity. I am dedicated to enriching students' understanding of gender through deconstructing dance history and present body politics to shed light on the impact and contributions made by past and present artists and theorists. With this structure, my goal is to inspire, connect, question, and elicit curiosity in my students through inquiry and self-evaluation.
A student under any circumstances can flourish if introduced to the right teacher. As such, dance instruction requires undivided attention, care, evaluation, adjustment, and support to enable fantastic dancers. Teaching itself also requires constant cultivation on the part of the teacher to further develop, thereby ensuring the student has everything he/she/they need to succeed. For this reason, I work to instill these ideas in my classroom and still pursue education to further my knowledge in dance education. It is important as an instructor and choreographer I continue my journey in education and research to offer the best information I can to my students. I believe no one ever arrives to a place of “all knowing,” for two reasons: 1.) it assumes the world of dance is finite, to which it is not; and 2.) that someone can arrive at this finality. With this perspective, I stress to my students to keep learning, exploring, and to do so from many different instructors. Without an ever-changing environment students become stagnant and while each teacher offers something important, it is vital to be versed and flexible in all forms of teaching.
To allow each dancer to flourish, an awareness of different avenues of learning is necessary. Auditory and musical learners, visual and spatial learners, verbal learners, logical and mathematical learners, physical or kinesthetic learners, social and interpersonal learners, and intrapersonal learners all require different pedagogical techniques. For each form of dance I teach, I explain my intentions in the beginning, show what is expected within the exercise on my own body, speak in tune with the beat of the music, count out loud, physically move their bodies with permission, draw diagrams, keep a strong structure, use simplistic vocabulary, and encourage students to ask questions about what I speak about.
My technique classes, such as ballet and contemporary incorporate conditioning work for physical strength, mental training for clarity and articulation, and strong performance skills that emphasize embodiment. My work in contemporary is principally inspired by several styles and techniques which are release forms, Improvisation, Horton, and Graham Technique. For my ballet classes, I incorporate both Vaganova and Cecchetti methods while also introducing both gender variations to every student. Even though my ballet classes keep the western ballet class structure they also incorporate anatomical language, offer opportunities to students to ask questions, align the movements with their historical roots, and dismantle the separation of men and women variations. In academic courses my goal is to always inform my students of all possible avenues to draw their own conclusions on the world around them. It is important to enlighten students on the history of dance, who wrote the history, and how this transforms interpretation. It is significant that each of my students gain insightful knowledge about each course, but to offer them a chance to draw their own conclusions. Through analysis, investigation, and discussion each student can thrive in their newfound knowledge.
The somatic experience is also significant in my practice. By weaving in Laban Movement Analysis and Feldenkrais Method principles and theories I can entice a deeper understanding of movement in my students. While many dance forms in the west urge for mirroring, constant growth, and external artistry, I thrive in slowing down, internal observation, questioning social constructs in the body and having them ask, “what is my authentic self and how does that look/feel?” Like Feldenkrais, repetition is key, like Laban kinesthetic awareness is important, and both breath integration and connectivity are vital for movement. While I am not certified in either, although one day I hope to be, I enforce their theories as a baseline for my students to be more than just external dancers, but multidisciplinary movers.
Every student to me deserves my undivided attention. Whether they be recreational or pre-professional. All students require the same respect as the western ideology of the “technically” talented.