Artist Statement and Teaching Philosophy
When I was very young I once asked myself, “At what age do all the adults tell us that God isn’t real and it’s all just an act to get us to behave?” At the core of this inquiry was the pursuit of truth in the everyday. That inquiry continues to motivate me to engage in conversation with the world about belief. Since I was nine years old my chosen method of communication and understanding abstract concepts of the human condition has been dance.
The display of common human experiences through dance can give us a different perspective on how we can cope or sympathize with the external world which we repeatedly encounter throughout life. I continue to ask, can dance serve as one of those consolations or celebrations of the turbulent human experience? These questions are the underlying drivers of my work. Stories and their tellers have been a pillar of our civilization since our very beginnings. In my own life I attempt to be one of those communicators.
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.