I believe in cultivating and encouraging a personal dance practice in my students. That, through my lessons and units, they will return to their lives away from the classroom and studio, and continue to work on the dance fundamental they have found an foraged though class; thus integrating dance into their lives. Whether this integration is classical positions, dance literacy and criticism, personal life movement exploration, or a desire to be a professional artist and/or dancer, I believe in support the students learning and personal goals by providing lessons that are always connected to the fundamentals of dance. With the fundamentals of movement, creativity, and artistry, the student need only explore and practice to find and pursue their goals. The role for me, as a teacher, is thus, to provide as many opportunities is possible for the student to explore, be challenged, and practice their dancing.
In addition to the personal artistic practice, dance is a physical practice, and I encourage students to become physically fit, full of vitality, so that their dancing may come with ease, breath, and life. I do not believe in “a certain body type, body form, or flexibility and facility” is required to dance. I believe that dancing comes from a wholesome understanding of one’s self, their body, and their awareness of their kinesphere. The reality is, moving and dancing can take a lot of physical exertion, strain, and focus—thus it is very important that the students are at a level of fitness required to do certain dances. I believe in a small amount of physical conditioning every class, and a review of “small technical dances”/exercises to ensure that proper tracking of joint and firing of muscles occur to prevent injury. Moreover, I believe in healthy, personalized progression—again, I do not believe in a homogenous sense of fitness from the whole class, but that each student is on his or her personal pathway to achieve the fitness required to execute the dance—if not move past the one’s level of fitness, and challenge oneself beyond their previous limits. Increased Strength and Flexibility are very important goals to my teachings, but I very much encourage each student to improve in these area at their own pace.
I very much believe in that teaching a dance student, means to cultivate an artist. That, dance goes beyond the steps and the studio—that the act of dancing is an act of art: an act of beauty. I very much encourage my students to know the Classical and Traditional dance techniques, placements, use of weight, and aesthetics as a baseline to their dancing—however, I very much request them to “make-mistakes”. I believe in challenging and playing with the forms, one’s personality and artistry is released—but the forms are important to know and revisit, and feel—understand. Depending on the class, classical techniques may be more or less emphasized, but always there are chances to compose and be artists by playing with the movements; if not with their steps, with the way in which the dance is preformed.
Lastly, I believe the classroom of dance should be a space of collaboration and community between the teacher and the students. I request that the students be present, and open to learn, and the teacher is available, honest, open to his student’s levels, experiences, backgrounds, fears, and joys. Again, the Teacher provides examples and questions for the student to explore, and in the safety and security of the studio, I hope the student is willing to try new things, absorb, and synthesize new knowledge and practices for themselves in dance. As a Teacher, self-reflection is very important for the development of my practice; and rubric assessments of the teacher’s course and of the student’s progression will be used to marker and recorder of the success of the arc of the dance unit for both student and teacher.
Most of all, dance is about life, love, joy, and beauty. Though dance is challenging, and full of discipline and focus, freedom is achieved through the rigorous practice, and the oral tradition of dance does grow with the practice of that dance by a new students. I believe dancing should be enjoyable, and an ever learning and challenging endeavor.