photo: tim summers

photo: tim summers

teaching philosophy

When I walk into a classroom, I feel the anticipation of the students. (Or is it MY anticipation reflected on their faces?) It doesn't matter which it is, but when it is palpable that everyone in the room is wondering about what is to come--including me--I know that the only outcome will be that of growth!

I begin each class wanting to ascertain what the students want to learn from me, and from each other, on any particular day. So, I share and present material to them and wait for their reactions. There are giggles and nervous whispers and a silliness that I find so delightful. After each exercise, I evaluate whether the phrase work is challenging enough, yet attainable. I make the necessary adjustments, and then I scan the room looking for their responses. Is the class going to be too hard? Will it be too easy? New? Fun? Challenging? Rewarding? I try to assess whether their "wheels are turning" as much as mine are in my head!

 photo: tim summers

photo: tim summers

There is something so exhilarating about such moments--when students are moving across the floor, and they are intensely engaged in figuring out the physical challenge. We repeat the task a few times. An then, at some point, the body starts to discover intuitively the nuances of the movement just as when newborns begin to learn how to stand and walk--lots of trial and error. It's an emotional process to watch students connect with some movements of the exercise, and confront the places they haven't captured yet--that invisible line that keeps them involved. I think what I love about watching students tread on that line is that it reminds me that dance is about "fleeting" moments. Dance cannot be replicated. Dance gives us the opportunity to find something new every single time. It gives us the chance to bring ourselves to the task at hand and learn who we are and what it is important. 

It is difficult to put a dance teaching philosophy into words when so much of it derives from the spirit and heart. However, I do know that I love dance and I love teaching it. But, what I love most is challenging the students as they challenge me to create a "fleeting" moment that only those in the room truly understand--a moment when we all learned something about ourselves. 

Nothing compares to that!