As an educator of dance, one must possess two passions: dance and education. These two passions reside in one another and influence each other on a daily, hourly, and momentary basis. I find myself to be most at home in an academic arena where I can explore my passion for dance education and witness the power this remarkable field has on individuals and communities. I have come to recognize and employ three truths which construct the corner stone to my teaching philosophy: actively be, value discovery and change within student centered lessons, and serve as a positive mentor.
As I stand before a group of students I strive to be actively present in our communications. Listening full heartedly to discussions, observing explorations with an open mind, and celebrating new discoveries are at the forefront to how I approach both my lecture and studio classes. I expect students to work hard and strive for excellence every time they walk into class; this is our laboratory and should be met with respect and honesty. I strive to have a class environment that is warm and inviting to help students invest in their learning, and be proud of the breakthroughs and discoveries they make. I want my students to learn and feel empowered with the knowledge they discover. They should leave class feeling responsible for what they learn and accept as their own truths.
Celebrate the Venture to Discovery and Change:
Movement, at its core, is change and dance, by its very nature, is progressive. We as educators must be open to progress and development, for the techniques of yesteryears have guided the techniques of today, just as our current movement vocabularies will guide future techniques; my courses echo these thoughts. With my diverse movement background, I strive to combine classical movement concepts with contemporary sensibilities.
A question I ask of myself and of students is what is most important, the end result or the process? Through the years, I have found that the value of discovery resides within the venture. I want my students to appreciate the processes they go through because it is from these processes where we gain our knowledge, advancements, and truths. Guiding students through their process without dictating their breakthroughs is a primary goal of my classes. I believe in embodying flexibility, for being flexible, in its philosophical form, boils down to opening oneself to spontaneity. Some of my most memorable teaching moments have been when I put my lesson plan aside and witnessed experiences that would have otherwise passed by. I embrace change, progress, and innovation and look forward to my life being enriched by my studentís enthusiasm for this ever evolving art form.
It is important to not just be a teacher of a specific subject, but serve as a proactive example of healthy living. Students are perceptive and recognize when a teacher does not practice what (s)he advocates. I believe that a strong teacher should accept all of his/her weaknesses and strengths; this is not to inflate the ego, but rather to be used as a channel of growth. By seeing the paradoxes within myself, I am more apt to seeing the paradoxes within my students. I am a student as much as I am a teacher. I always bear in mind that I can have a profound influence on my students, just as they will have on me. I believe that it is an honor to teach.