Who I am as a dance teacher and choreographer
I treat the classroom as a place of exploration and discovery, while complementing the experience with teaching fundamental technique principles. I strive to teach my students to reach for constant balance between their artistry and their technique. I want them to discover who they are as a technician, but also who they are as an artist, a performer, and a creator. I believe those are all elements that make up a strong, successful dancer.
For technique development, I utilize a structured approach of exercises that balance the development of flexibility and strength. I co-owned a personal training studio for six years, studied university-level anatomy and kinesiology, and have my Pilates certification. My experiences studying the body and applying those learned principles has informed my approach to teaching. I focus strongly on how the body moves, injury prevention, proper alignment and placement, as well as correct anatomy and dance terminology. My classes begin with a strong, dynamic warm-up composed of a variety of exercises where the goal is solely to lubricate the muscles and joints to be able to move through their full range of motion. The warm-up is followed by Pilates and Yoga inspired exercises that explore finding the dancer’s center, commonly referred to as ‘core work.’ I then focus on holding correct positions of the body to develop a strong muscle memory, such as balancing in a passe position.
I also like to have my students explore what it is like to be completely out of control and out of correct placement. We do exercises with no desired look in mind; just submitting the body to move freely. The only goal is allowing yourself to discover. I enjoy seeing the body going from straight and controlled to released and explosive. I train my dancers to go from structured exercises that require a desired goal to exploring how the body can move, collapse, and shake without a specific desired end result. This is often done through improvisation exercises and movement phrases.
I utilize exercises that promote the dancers’ ability to find body awareness and execute movement qualities, dynamics, focus, levels, and gestures/nuances in movement. I want my students to discover all that is available to them and find out what makes them who they are as individual, unique movers. In contrast, I lead exercises and movement phrases that require the dancers to, in a sense, be identical and strive to be part of a group, rather than standing out as an individual. I strongly believe dancers need to be able to do both.
I pride myself in creating an atmosphere in the classroom that bounces from light and fun to calm and focused. I believe in having a delivery that is exciting, high energy, and engaging. I aim to always be engaging my students, which enhances their learning and ultimately their experience. My students are clear on my expectations of them. I expect them to be diligent, focused, driven, patient with themselves and others, vulnerable, and respectful. They know they can expect me to provide them with guidance and support, and that I will be respectful of their individual learning needs.
I am forever a student: continuously learning, growing and exploring my craft. This desire for growth is reflected in my teaching style. I’m always experimenting with my approach. I believe variety is key to growth and creative exploration exercises, complied with fundamental technique training and repetition of those exercises, allows dancers to experience optimal training.
It is important to me that dancers push their performance quality in every style. I utilize exercises that incorporate breath, voice, and emotion to allow the dancer to be more human and raw, and to help discover who they are as a performer. I have many exercises that push the dancers to be ‘actors.’ I want them to be able to access different aspects of performance quality easily and quickly. It is important they are well-rounded and able to go from a sassy jazz piece to a heavy modern piece, while genuinely portraying the desired emotion.
The components to my classes include focusing on technique training, solid conditioning/strength training, creative phrases encompassing focus, dynamics, levels, weight changes, movement quality changes, improvisation, and partnering. I generally end my classes with static stretching and a class discussion reflecting on what we learned and discovered that day.
I ultimately teach because I’m drawn to what the classroom brings. The highs and the lows. I thrive on seeing my students discover and accomplish. I enjoy exploring the complexities of helping a struggling student and figuring out creative ways to tackle their individual obstacles. I genuinely love and respect what dance, both physically and mentally, has to offer to both my students and myself.