Teaching Philosophy: Fostering Community and Inclusion through Dance Education
As an advocate of community building beyond the dance studio, my teaching approach centers on human connectivity within the classroom to foster compassion, empathy, and relationships extending beyond those walls. Guided by my commitment to equity and inclusion in the arts, particularly through dance, my teaching philosophy informs all my classes, from early childhood creative movement to college-level technique courses. I achieve this goal by cultivating an inclusive learning environment that encourages questioning, collaboration, and mutual support among students. This is achieved by dedicating class time to student voice, creative expression, and reflective practices. Over my nearly 20 year teaching career, I've woven my dedication to community-centric learning with effective instruction of codified technique, crafting curricula that harmonize technical learning with creative exploration which is a testament to the practicality of codified language in artistic development.
To instill a sense of community, I begin by acknowledging each student individually, memorizing their names as a tangible commitment to their experience. This approach, whether applied to a semester-long course or a single workshop, establishes an atmosphere of respect and validation. Furthermore, for high-school, college, and professional level classes, excluding ballet, I initiate sessions with a simple exercise: a guided walk around the studio space, where students acknowledge and greet one another. This motion underscores their shared humanity. Similarly, classes conclude in a reflective circle, an egalitarian arrangement affirming shared time and allowing personal introspection. Starting and ending classes this way fosters thoughtful engagement and sets the stage for movement exploration and discourse in subsequent sessions.
Concurrently, my classes follow thoughtfully devised curricula, blending my proficiency in codified techniques with my experiential insights. My instructional approach layers demonstrations, descriptions, contextualization, and image-based prompts, forming what I term the "accessible-teaching model." This method caters to diverse learning styles, ensuring inclusivity in my teaching. I am dedicated to accommodating each student's learning curve, employing this multi-faceted approach. While I uphold high expectations for all students, I am cognizant that the supportive community I've cultivated, coupled with the accessible-teaching model and my expressed belief in their potential, empowers them to surpass even their own expectations.
I teach dance out of a deep affection for sharing creative expression and rekindling my passion for the art through observing my students. It is a privilege to contribute to dance education, and I hold myself accountable to continual growth and development. This is demonstrated through my pursuit of higher education degrees, certifications, and ongoing learning opportunities, all geared toward delivering substantiated and ever-evolving dance education to my students.