TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

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photo by: madison stonefield

behind the scenes of

"distend•dilate"

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photo by: madison stonefield

behind the scenes of

"distend•dilate"

000008460009.jpg
photo by: madison stonefield

behind the scenes of

"distend•dilate"

In one way or another, we are all teachers. We’ve all played the role of instructor to someone in our lives at one time, we’ve become a mentor when we didn’t expect it and we have absolutely all been someone’s role model. These facets come naturally to us, just as teaching has come naturally to me. Thinking back to the first time I became a Drill Team Coach at the age of 12, I had no idea the responsibility that had just landed on my shoulders. However, from the moment I started, I knew that this was going to be an important part of my life forever. From then until now I have coached and choreographed for countless teams, while expanding my growth as a Contemporary Modern teacher and yet one thing remains the same: the true joy of watching your students evolve is a feeling unparalleled to anything else. 

It’s vital that all of my spaces that I enter are welcoming to all. Reservations on race, gender identity, abilities and disabilities, age or anything else will not allow us as artists to evolve and create as we should. When I walk into a space, my goal is to hope that the class leaves with a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude that translates into thanking themselves for making the step to get into class, gratitude that translates into being happy that they showed up, gratitude that translates into noticing their growth, gratitude that translates into being proud of themselves. I wish for myself to feel the same when reflecting after each class. Dance deserves to be fun and I hope that I can be that provider for everyone that crosses my path in my classes. Whether it’s allowing ourselves to make “mistakes” and laugh at them, or playing music that gets us all moving and grooving, we have to remind ourselves that we’re doing this because we love it and we should be having fun as much as we can. 

Growing up, the programs I was in strived for perfection, individuality wasn’t a choice. While I learned so much from my competitive days, and I still love to choreograph and be a spectator for them, I can no longer allow myself to reach for perfection in my other avenues of work. Through my higher education career, I’ve encountered similar instructors to my youth and some polar opposite. I wasn’t used to the freedom to express how we wished and hearing that precise perfection was not an end goal opened me to new possibilities. I’ve found myself glued to loving this new perspective of art that I have been able to release the dated ways that I grew up understanding. What I have been able to do is take that discipline & endless hours of hard work and create an environment that sheds what I don’t need, unlearning what wasn’t essential to my growth, so in turn I can reach for progress. I’ve become so interested in watching my students discover their own greatness throughout their ever evolving selves. Everything is in progress and everything is a process, I want to bring that with me everywhere I go and share myself. There is no use of getting angry at what didn’t happen, and so much more value in researching what you could make out of it. 

Using improvisation has been one the greatest tools I could have gained. Watching the process of an artist organically get into their body by allowing it to move the way that it naturally does says so much about where you can take the class. I have to understand the energy of the class and be able to quickly make decisions based on what’s currently happening. I have to be okay with knowing that not everything will go according to plan and I might not get to complete everything on my agenda. My main focus is to take care of the class and lead them down a trajectory that will lead them to success no matter how minute or grand. I also want the class to understand their successes, by understanding their worth and holding that with them into wherever they move next in their lives. I love to challenge dancers with movement throughout class that will get their brains working, and it’s imperative that they leave class feeling like they’ve accomplished both things they could do and want to continue working towards. In teaching others, I’m constantly teaching myself. I vow to never stop the process, it will continue to push me to become a better educator on every level I can.