My goal as an instructor is to awaken and inspire students to think and move. By bringing my own curiosity into the classroom and studio, I act as a model for students to develop their own commitment to thinking and moving. Thus, my teaching is a performance of critical awareness that inspires students to realize their own ability to develop this awareness.
I teach classes in performance studies and dance. Performance studies classes I teach include “Performing Ethnography,” “Movement for Social Justice” (co-taught) and “Bodies, Texts, and Embodiment” (forthcoming in 2022). Dance classes include dance history/dance studies, choreography, music for dance, film dance, pedagogy, and contemporary dance technique. I also choreograph for student concerts.
The course content in my performance studies classes, as well as some of my dance classes, often engages events and social issues that some students find challenging or disturbing. Since many in-class exercises call for deep self-reflection and embodiment of highly-charged issues around cultural identities, these classes are carefully paced, addressing the ethics of representation, intersectionality, and allyship. In addition, I have begun to use “community agreements” at the beginning of the semester. I work with the students to create guidelines on mutual respect, access issues, participation, safety, etc. By constructing the agreement together, students develop a deep investment in class processes and accountability.
I teach a variety of students, including those pursuing Theatre and Performance Studies PhDs, undergrads majoring in dance or theatre, and non-major undergraduates. One of the most important techniques I have learned, and continue to learn, is the facilitation of multiple entry points into course materials to accommodate students from multiple backgrounds, abilities, and skill levels. I view my class as modeling a tolerant community that helps students engage and become aware of current issues through multiple lenses.
In creating and managing courses in dance studies, one of my primary challenges is to inspire students who are often most concerned with the technical aspects of performing and choreographing to interact with dance in theoretical and analytical contexts. To this end, I embrace a performance-based pedagogy in which we bring weekly readings into the studio and explore relationships between written texts, bodies, and bodies as texts. I also make connections between concert dance forms and popular dance sites such as Tik Tok and Instagram. This give the students a broad range within which they can position themselves, their technical training, and performances as they examine the field.
Finally, I continually seek ways to build a mutually constitutive relationship between my pedagogy, choreography, and research. Thus, my work on the ethics of representation, allyship, and community-building permeates all branches of my work. These intersections enliven my teaching and help me model and inspire students to embody a robust and supple curiosity.