What I value most in dance education is the potential for dance to intersect with multiple facets of students’ lives. I believe that by teaching dance in a way that fosters a diligent collective of artists open to new ideas and difference in each other, students gain skills on how to collaborate, tools on how to practice dance, and inclusive thinking that bridges dance to other areas of life. I believe dance is both a physical practice and a life practice in which the skills needed to fulfill one’s potential as a dance practitioner correlate to skills imperative to thriving in other areas of life and studies. I craft environments in all of my courses for students to experience their learning together, to speak up when they want to share a thought, and to engage in meaningful ways about how dance, as a practice, is simultaneously physical, intellectual, and theoretical.
I am passionate about sparking student interest in dance, as well as challenging students who want to deepen their physical practices and conceptualization of dance as a form. I emphasize the inextricable ties between physical practices and theoretical contexts of the body, fostering environments that incite critical thinking about dance and the self. As much as I aim to understand how my identity appears in research and teaching, I invite students to actively include themselves – their identities, histories, academic interests, social imperatives, and lived experiences- into their dance practices and contributions. Dance studies is inevitably interdisciplinary, and I believe that the cyclical connections between pedagogy and artistry yoke at dialogues about identity, as well as how our unique histories inform the lens through which we live, witness, and dance.
The queer lens with which I approach the cultivation of creative learning spaces means I make permeable the boundaries between artistic and theoretical practices. Students in my courses engage with different kinds of artwork, literature, film, and podcasts from scholars of various disciplines, through which we collectively expand notions about dance and dance studies. In seminar courses, I aim to diversify the ways students are held accountable for their work, including group work, written reflections, and audio recordings. The hope is to humanize learning as a fluid and cyclical process that can transform over the course of the semester as much as students evolve, including moments in which students are available for challenge or need opportunities to restore. I am aware of how the system of academia perpetuates capitalist ideals of production, and I open dialogues about the destabilizing effects of such systems in order for us to collaborate on ways to re-imagine our course structure, and co-create collective proposals for accountability and growth.
Modern technique has been a through line of my professional teaching, and am in constant reflection on the ways I can decolonize my physical practices, including the citation of movement sources that are often claimed by western figures in dance history, and the acknowledgment of the native land on which we practice. These decolonizing processes are particularly important in my movement classes, as I always emphasize the power of the earth and gravity, and blend the western modern dance forms of Cunningham, Limon, Contact Improvisation, and Bartenieff Fundementals, all of which were influenced by non-western ideas or practices, or were catalyzed by the labor of non-white people. In these modern classes, I craft class structures with thematic through-lines that build, recycle, and move forward week to week. I prepare students to move safely, efficiently, and accurately, engaging with their skeletal structures in a range of muscular tone. My classes are mindful and rigorous, and conclude with dynamic, full-bodied phrase work.
I believe dance education has the potential to deepen students’ ability to experience the world through a nuanced understanding of themselves and the people around them. All of my courses, from technique to dance theory, invite students to consider how studying dance as a practice teaches them how to be their own, lifelong teachers. In the spirit of improvisation artist Deborah Hay, and in alignment with the belief that the body is a site of research, my dance pedagogy places movement and identity at the center of inquiry, and inquiry at the center of one’s dance practice. By utilizing the act of questioning to guide students into abstract thinking, where we venture into a place where questions are valued over answers.