My pedagogy is deeply rooted in my experiences as an artist, athlete and meditator. It is through difficult challenge and flowing inspiration within these practices and relationships that I have found shape and ground as a teacher. Since I was 16, teaching has been an integral part of my life. Inspiring and sharing my passion for art, the body and the mind with others has not only given me great reward, it has been invaluable in my own learning. Within a fundamental acceptance of unique individuals and happenings, I strive to be the dichotomy of preparedness and open experience. As I prepare for any class, whatever the discipline or demographics, my conscious practice is one of presence, transparency, technique, fun and being an example.
Presence: As both an artist and a teacher, my first intention is to be as present as possible to the needs of the moment. Whether it is a student, a canvas, a movement or a piece of literature, I practice to stay in tune with my breath as a place of reference. At the beginning of class, I encourage students to make the choice to put their phones on airplane mode while finding their breath in order to ‘disconnect to connect.’ This simple observance allows a clear beginning for class as well as a reference point of breath to return to again and again. This practice becomes a metaphor to remind students that they have everything they need immediately within their body/mind’s to negotiate each moment.
Transparency/Openness: I believe that being transparent and open to students as well my art, is vital to cultivating a space that invites creativity, learning and discipline. I find it important to say ‘I don’t know,’ when I don’t; allow myself time to process openly when needed and in turn, allow this from students. Engaging in a movement (or visual) practice of ‘first thought, best thought,’ provides students with opportunities to explore this courageous vulnerability within themselves and their peers. Mistakes happen, things will be unknown; this is okay and where the life/work/art happens! A practice of boundaries in my own openness and being understanding within the unique compositions of individual students notably compliments this philosophy.
Technique: The needs of the circumstances create an open and flexible pedagogy on technique in art for me. My main objective as a teacher in the arts is the honest expression, creative thinking and self/cultural-awareness that art can provide to simultaneously stimulate change and consistency. I believe technique is unique to each individual and culture in art, and I am interested in the highly technical expression of the intention, artist and moment. From experience, I also trust that trained techniques can be essential to both mind and body in developing skill, safety and reliability. While putting emphasis on students’ developmental steps in learning, I am interested in cultivating a student’s direction, curiosities and voice within creativity and ultimately themselves. To be more receptive to the interests and needs of the students, technique is an area where I learn to allow my interests as a teacher and an artist to be separate.
Fun!: Class is a gathering of arduous joy! I have found that assigning ‘silly’ mini-score dances/art making, offering movements across the floor that offer play, and mindfully creating a lighthearted atmosphere allows students access to what can potentially hold them back in body and mind. This woven fiber of fun gives permission to the great pleasure in dance/art and ensues endurance when challenge presents itself in the work.
Being an Example: And finally, I strive to be an embodied example of what I am teaching in the studio/classroom. Learning myself, this example is as alive, changing and dynamic as the classroom and creative inquiry. As the embodiment of the information, I believe the way I am delivering it will have more impact on the students than the information itself. My classroom culture is one that everyone matters, has a voice and is on equal playing ground. Respect leads to trust, that leads to connection in learning, and love. I believe we should love ourselves, love others and love what we are doing. Yep, love is also one of the most important practices of my teaching philosophy…