“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”
Providing the spark of curiosity and learning can lead to the future success of today’s students. My teaching philosophy is a fire comprised of four main elements: passion, communication, community, and experience.
As an educator, I am fervent about movement. The tangible and metaphorical heat that comes from moving is what drives my dynamic approach to teaching. I refuse to remain static within movement concepts, theories and ideas. Within postmodern contemporary, jazz, ballet, and improvisation I find ways to explode open students’ notions of the forms, play with overlap between them, and pay homage to the foundational building blocks. Within the classroom, I design these movement concepts so they develop and grow alongside students’ progression, as well as the field of dance as a whole. This methodology requires sensitivity to the needs of students and the energy of the learning environment. Also necessary is my commitment to staying current within dance practices by taking classes, attending workshops, and engaging with scholarly material; dancing, reading, discussing. By exuding my passion for movement within technique and theory courses alike, I aim to keep students excited and engaged, to inspire them to charge head first into their dance practices.
Within my fervent fire of movement, communication is the kindling to my teaching philosophy—it brings the fire of to life. I strive to use language to guide students to understand and discover new information. I work to keep an open exchange of communication with students to stimulate critical questioning and thoughtful examination of information. Assignments, in-class writing prompts and discussion questions are all thoughtfully designed to encourage students to become articulate thinkers and dancers. Providing opportunities for collaboration and feedback between peers allows students to learn effective interpersonal communication. I promote students taking responsibility for their learning through active reflection in multiple forms such as journaling, papers, and projects.
In order for students to learn effectively, I create a ring of stones around the fire, or a safe community environment in which individuals can take risks and try new things. This community is enhanced by removing the barrier of the student-teacher relationship as expert and novice, resulting in a collaborative learning environment. I work to build on students’ individual histories, which become the foundation to develop old ideas, absorb new ones, and create connections between the two. By including historical and contextual information within lessons, I aim to promote students’ understanding of dance’s role within the larger global community.
The logs of this fire, building and feeding the flames, are the new and different experiences I supply throughout classes. I apply somatics, kinesiology, creative and work to learning experiences in order to broaden students’ understanding of the body and develop appreciation of dance as an art form. I cultivate learning experiences that extend to the multiple intelligences of students to encourage full comprehension. I aim for lessons to translate to life outside of the dance classroom, using contextual information to frame concepts learned in the studio.
No matter the life or career goals of students, knowledge and skills gained within dance classes transfer to all walks of life. Sparking a passion for learning in students can lead to success in whatever field they choose to explore. My goal is to encourage creative and critical thinkers that will seek out, build and feed their own fires.