MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
When I began my teaching career at the age of fifteen, I was drawn towards instructors who intertwined insightful knowledge of dance with creative imagery. This is what I strive to provide my students: an intellectual understanding of the body balanced with creative freedom of the mind. As I continued to develop my teaching practice, a more profound understanding of dance grew into what guides me today: The joys of moving are a human right that everyone is entitled to explore, no matter one’s age, physicality or previous experience.
My joy of teaching dance stems from a passion to share my knowledge with others. I find that through my teaching practice my knowledge and appreciation of dance deepens. I am drawn towards adult students who are passionate about moving, but need a confidence boost and safe place to explore. In my dance classroom, I work to establish strong pillars of community, support and empathy by facilitating a safe environment in a psychological, social, and biological way. When my students feel safe in these three ways, they are able to fully invest their energy in their dance community as well as reciprocate support and empathy to their peers.
To establish a safe classroom, my warm-up is carefully curated for the goals of my classes. I do not believe in a one-size-fits all warm-up, but as an opportunity to further solidify the themes of the lesson plan for the class. Psychologically, I use the time to acclimate my students’ minds to being in dance class and preparing their bodies to move - especially for those who are not in the mood to wriggle and shake! Socially, there are moments of social interaction throughout to build a sense of class culture, even if that class culture only lasts for the duration of the class. I encourage dancers to make eye-contact with one another and cue their movement from one another, as well as promote physical touch (if students are comfortable). Biologically, I ensure body safety by alternating between strengthening exercises, dynamic flexibility sequences, and movement progressions. These movement progressions not only facilitate various qualities of movement, but establish proper mechanical function in the body as well.
To further solidify a safe space, I soften the power dynamic between teacher and student. I believe it is vital to break down the stereotype of the sacred “teacher space” at the front of the room by placing myself in different parts of the studio. I also encourage my students to take up that space, empowering them with the notion that this class is their class, not my class. This allows students to learn material from a different perspective as well as gives me the opportunity to connect with students who tend to congregate in the back. Another way I soften the power dynamic between teacher and student is by warming-up side by side with my students. This allows my body to understand what my students’ bodies may be feeling and to calibrate the next step in my lesson plan.
When my students’ eyes light up with the same passion I feel when I am dancing, I know I am accomplishing my goals. While every student may not become a professional dancer, my students are successful when they have enough confidence in themselves to assert to the world that they are a dancer. There is immense satisfaction in my work as an educator when I see my students’ confidence build and they start branching out to more dance genres. To sum up my teaching philosophy, Albert Einstein said it best: “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”