As a dance educator I value:
Anatomically-sound technique and practices
Pursuit of excellence as opposed to perfection
Useful feedback and correction
Age and level-appropriate expectations
Practice of dance classroom etiquette
Development of artistry as well as technique
Connection between the mental,
emotional, and physical self
A safe, supportive environment where dancers can take artistic and technical risk
A mind and spirit open to new ideas and methods
Dance Genres/Styles Taught
Class consists of age-appropriate exercises at the barre, center, and across the floor, following the traditional ballet class structure. Emphasis is placed on learning and developing proper ballet technique and class etiquette.
Modern/Contemporary Dance Technique
Class consists of a warm-up that begins on the floor, then moves to standing exercises. Students will then move across the floor, and class ends with a challenging center floor combination. Emphasis is placed on floor work, learning and performing contemporary movement, and interpreting movement in new and non-traditional ways.
Jazz Dance Technique
Class consists of a warm-up that includes isolations, abdominal work, stretching, and strengthening exercises. Students will practice jumps and turns moving across the floor, pirouettes (when age and level-appropriate), and end class with a challenging center combination. Emphasis is placed on musicality, high-energy movement, and exhibiting personal style and expression.
Musical Theater Dance
Class is similar to a jazz dance technique class. Students will be challenged to exhibit a high level of performance quality and stage presence throughout the class. The final combination will incorporate a song from a Broadway musical, and students are encouraged to perform the combination in character.
Dance for Camera
Students will be given a simple dance combination to begin or will begin with a combination that all the students already know from a previous class or performance. Students will take turns performing the combination and filming one another, experimenting with different camera angles, perspectives, and even performance locations if they choose. They will then take their films and manipulate them (individually or as an instructor-led group, depending on facilities and age of the students) using basic video editing software to create a new dance for camera.
Length: 4-6 hours, can be split into parts
Skills Developed: teamwork, collaboration, synthesis of multiple ideas, choreographic process, problem solving, creative thinking, synthesis of technology and arts, basic video editing, basic camera techniques
Product Created: one dance for film or several that can be shown at an upcoming performance, at the end of the workshop, or published on school’s website or YouTube channel
Students will work together to create a short dance in a style of their choosing. They will work in small groups to create shorter, 8-16 count combinations, and then as a large group combine those smaller pieces to create a 1-2 minute dance. When bringing their ideas together, students will be guided to include choreographic devices including motif, improvisation, repetition, retrograde, unison, canon/contagion, and variations on speed, rhythm, and/or perspective.
Length: 90 minutes to 3 hours
Skills Developed: teamwork, collaboration, dance technique, performance quality and stage presence, synthesis of multiple ideas, choreographic process, improvisation, problem solving, creative thinking.
Product Created: final dance can be performed for an upcoming performance or for parents and teachers at the conclusion of the workshop.
The Feedback Process- learning to give and receive constructive criticism and utilize feedback from peers and mentors
This workshop aims to move students from describing a dance or dancer as “good” or “bad” or “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it,” and instead thinking and responding to what they see in a critical and useful way. The workshop will begin by viewing a work of choreography and asking for students’ feedback. We will begin talking about the dance as a group, and after a bit of discussion about what they thought, I will then guide students through the steps laid out in Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process as a frame for giving and receiving effective feedback. We will then re-watch the same dance and walk through the same process, giving students a chance to apply the process they’ve learned. We’ll then role play and discuss other situations that require critical response and/or response to constructive criticism (ie, your peer creates a dance or other piece of art and wants your opinion, or how to respond to a teacher or parent who gives you constructive criticism about something you’ve done).
Length: 90 minutes to 2 hours
Skills Developed: Interpersonal relations, speaking on topic, public speaking, critical thinking, understanding the difference between a neutral and opinionated question, understanding the difference between fact and opinion, ability to identify components of a dance or work of art rather than simply expressing an emotional response
Contemporary Ballet Movement Invention
offered to students at the advanced level (i.e., comfortable with pirouettes and other turns, longer combinations, and strong enough to balance in releve without the barre), who are in their sophomore, junior or senior years of high school
This workshop will give students a starting point for creating dances and movement that are contemporary in nature but still utilize classical ballet technique. We will begin with barre exercises, introducing new ideas such as shifting on and off balance, improvising part of an exercise, etc. Then we will move to center where they will learn a contemporary ballet combination. After a break, we will deconstruct the combination. Then students will have time to create their own contemporary ballet combination utilizing these ideas. After showing each other their combinations, we’ll end by giving feedback to one another, identifying what was successful in their combinations and giving ideas on ways they could have further pushed the boundaries.
OPTIONAL: if there is interest and your school would like to allot extra time, after giving feedback, students can then come together and work to create a new contemporary ballet utilizing each dancer’s combinations.
Length: 2-3 hours, (3-4 hours needed if utilizing optional section of class)
Skills Developed: Problem solving, critical thinking, application of new ideas, giving and receiving constructive criticism and feedback, dance technique, performance quality, stage presence, deconstructing movement
Product Created: short combination for each dancer to use in audition videos or future choreography, and possibly a longer work for students to perform at a future performance