My class is constructed for the musician within the dancer. I go through most of the formal syllabus of a ballet barre standing in the center and weave in exercises that allow the dancer to move and explore the space around them. I have a passion for teaching in the style of Paul Taylor, whose company I danced in for thirteen years. My aim is to indulge the dancer in movement instantly from the first exercise by encouraging them to dance like a musician. I believe the student has all the power within themselves to become a great performer yet often feel as if the constructs and rigidity of the dancers’ training can stifle that expression. I enjoy teaching technique and its methods. I’m a proponent of drilling those methods into dancers’ bodies holistically. One small movement of the hand is not isolated to that body part. The entire body is involved in that gesture or choreographic choice. These smaller movements can often be imperceptible to the naked eye but I believe observation doesn’t end with the eyes. Our bodies have a sensitivity that causes a chain reaction throughout the entire system.
Allowing students to interpret movement on their own bodies is important to me. I don’t believe in making carbon copies of myself. My goal is to guide the student in sensing how the movement accompanied by the music speaks to them. They often teach me more than the other way around. I often get the sense that the demarcation between teacher and student gets blurred in these moments.
A classroom, or my case a dance studio, is a synthesis of an experimental playground and a space where the student can work to unveil their personality. The exercises and phrases I teach are built to encourage the students’ voice to come from within. Through constant nurturing and humility on my part the student learns to trust me and the others around them so they can feel comfortable taking risks. I set up my class as a safe place to explore and sometimes that means looking silly or falling when trying something new. In other words a safe space where we can all embrace the vulnerability of bodies moving in space.