Teaching Statement

As an educator, I am committed to dance as a social justice practice that entices fervor for movement, intellectual curiosity, moral responsibility, and spiritual sensitivity among students. I am continually questioning the role dance plays in individuals’ broader educational experiences and my role as teacher and facilitator to empower students to participate in learning and provoke wholeness of the mind, body, spirit in and out of the classroom. I believe that dance is a physical training for being in the world that affords us great access to the immense capabilities and delicate vulnerabilities of our bodies, “to envision, move, and create change,” as dance activist, Sherry Shapiro would say. To these ends, I work to create an equitable learning community by engaging a feminist and critical pedagogy that challenges the boundaries of traditional educational practices to consider students’ needs, diverse learning styles, cultural backgrounds, as well as, personal histories where students can enliven their individualities and learn to support each other through their diverse journeys: where students and I are discovering dance and learning together. I celebrate dance as a powerful ritual to express and transform the human experience over a lifetime of learning, rooting, and discovering.
Foundationally, I anchor my movement approach within the somatic practices of Bartneiff Fundamentals and Laban Movement Analysis: Space, Time, Weight, and Flow, as a tool to generate a deeper attending, relationship, and conceptualization of movement. My personal practice is loosely influenced by my mentor, Michele Miller’s martial arts background and her use of Tai Chi’s, Dantian (translated as energy life center) to bring breathing and grounding techniques to the movement experience through phrase design and attention to sensation. Methodically, I weave these principles within visual, tactile, and kinesthetic teaching strategies as I aim to help students achieve a bottomless depth of embodied cognition and curiosity. By integrating somatic processes within set phrase material and exercises, or guided improvisation, students begin to prosper and articulate their relationship with gravity and the Earth, muscular control and release, motor functioning, and coordination as a means to move with more ease and efficiency, as if to finesse our articulation as we would in succinct communication or language arts. I aim to design movement experiences that will help develop and grow alongside students’ progression and personal goals, as well as the field of dance as a whole. Critical terms like momentum, breath, energy, weight, and play join us on our learning journey through dialogue to further encourage our embodied connectivity. I make space for critical questioning and troubleshooting of material in a group forum to further support the interpersonal learning journey of the individual as well as the community. Through the implications of these strategies, students enliven their range of physical training and become grounded with their being in the world that is compassionate, critical, and creative.
Engaging a feminist and critical pedagogy that challenges the boundaries of traditional educational practices, I work to co-create inclusive communities where we (the students and I) establish the will to learn and take risks together, empowering successful failures. I foster a space that welcomes an open exchange of communication to stimulate thoughtful examination of our theory and practice, as well as critical questioning, authoring self-responsible learning habits. At the opening of every class, I facilitate a “check-in” for all students’ voices to be heard and welcomed into space, reinforcing an inclusive approach to learning, allowing the student to develop and create ownership of their identity within the classroom.  This ownership in itself is a learning process, but as a reminder, I like to say, “Start where you are.” In this manner, an expectation of transparency and individual autonomy has been set for the students and myself, evoking agency within their interpersonal learning process. I encourage community discussion and process as much as possible, as I provide ample opportunities for collaboration and feedback between peers, encouraging the skill-building necessary for the evolving field.
Through the scaffolding of our rooted community and kinesthetic fervor, my aim is that students generate the thrill of curiosity, exceed self-expectations, and establish the deep roots of self-worth and artistic agency. Using a critical and feminist pedagogy, to co-create an inclusive environment, students feel that their opinions and self-voice are welcome and heard, enabling a deeper level of investigation and rigor with each class meeting. This validation of personal experience is essential to the kind of knowledge that enables students to “find their voices” as educators like to say. I have witnessed my students’ progress from black and white thinking to more complex methods of constructing knowledge and critique: the advancement from quantitative to qualitative views of understanding.
Celebrating dance as a powerful ritual to express and transform the human experience over a lifetime of learning, I promote students taking responsibility for their learning through an active reflection in multiple forms such as journaling, papers, and creative projects of their choosing. My goal is to encourage students to become forward thinkers and creative doers, as well as develop diverse individualized pathways and strategies for interpersonal learning within the field. The key to my philosophy rests in creating an invaluable learning experience, one that extends past the institution broadening students perspectives as active citizens in society, and waters the roots of self-worth, identity, and curiosity.  Dance is a means of connecting oneself to a community; the journey and the transformation through the embodied knowledge that is simultaneously cognitive, sensuous, and emotional.