Photo Credit (L-R): Alex Maness, Alec Himwich, Leah Wilks, Noah Fowler, Justin Tornow, Alex Maness, Tim Walter, Alex Maness, Anna Maynard
Within my classrooms, I believe in getting messy. In inverting things (both literally and figuratively). In seeing from unconventional angles. In uncovering the “why” as opposed to just the “what” of dancing. I am interested in classrooms that re-configure what “success” means and that work to expand students’ conceptions of their own ranges of possibility. I do not ask each student to check their previous experiences at the door, but instead to unpack how these histories have shaped their choices and beliefs. Next to this, I encourage them to lean into the unknown.
Space for work and for laughter both feel vital.
As a teacher, I am always a work in progress. I strive to be brave, to get un-stuck, to keep curious about the potential of the body in motion. Informed by a number of somatic practices (BMC, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Alexander Technique, contact improvisation, and various forms of release technique) I teach about efficiency of movement when it seems useful and helps to keep bodies from injuring themselves or other bodies. I love the floor, and try to help students get more comfortable in their relationship with it. In this vein, I emphasize the practice of learning to fall well, so that the kinesphere in which a student finds joy might expand to include the floor, the off-center and the upside-down. I teach about musicality and rhythm to help expand the palettes of my students and because, with a background in rhythm tap, I love these elements of dancing. Through contact improv exercises and eyes-closed partnering work, I teach about the value of touch, trust, active listening, and relinquishing control. I teach about different qualities of movement through visual imagery, by taking my students outside to experience how a sunset might affect their choices when doing an Adagio in ballet, or by discussing the different fluid systems in the body and how concentrating on the lymphatic system, for example, might open new possibilities inside of our movement. Through solo improvisational exercises and partnered or group work, I teach to expand peripheral vision and awareness of the environment (inclusive of people and objects and non-human beings) that surrounds us. I emphasize to students that we are people first and dancers second (and that actually these two things are not separable); that I do not care how well they execute a movement if they are not aware of the other people with whom they are dancing.
I aim to create experiences of being with one another and moving together even when the world/day/movement feels impossible.
I believe in disagreements and failure as necessary parts of this process – that joy and discovery are encouraged by these acts instead of dismantled by them.
I believe in learning from, alongside and with my students.
I strive to help my students move away from the idea of “nailing it” as an end goal in their dancing, and towards finding the satisfaction in having a constant curiosity in what we are actually doing right now, in this present moment, together.
To me, the moves I teach are scaffolding; the dancing happens in everything else that occurs in between.