We are but a culmination of our experience, and I have always been so excited to share the experience I have been so lucky to acquire. By the precedent set by my Professor Molly Heller, I believe in the whole person, in me as well as my students. Professor Heller taught both in theory and in example the benefits of honoring the whole personhood from both a student’s standpoint as well as a teacher’s. I believe in creating environments in which we can honor who we are and where we came from. In that diverse community—we learn from each other, creating not just a wide base of knowledge but also a depth that I could not do on my own. Teaching is, for me, based in the uncovering of truths that we hold together in our classroom. Professor Heller continually reminded us of how protecting our own energy made us powerful enough to help uncover the power of our students, and this I will firmly carry with me.
In my formative years as a teacher, I was able to attend a dance and Child international conference in Taipei, Taiwan. The keynote speaker talked of finding the individuals in your classroom and fostering their understanding of their own bodies and selves. He spoke of the integration of meditation in classrooms and how this sense of self, aided in the expression of the dancer. Since this conference I’ve become more determined to finding how I can effectively teach each student, through increased side-coaching but also incorporating self-studied meditation explorations in my classes. This building of autonomy fosters students who are able to engage in the work at hand, both creatively and theoretically. There is a sense of openness which I work into each of my lessons, inviting each student into the work in their own way so that they might have a personal stake in our subject matter.
Whether or not students go forward from my class as dance practitioners, my aim is that they might have gained a deeper understanding of expression (both physical and emotional), a rootedness of their place in the world, and the ability to find connectivity with not just the beings that surround them, but the interconnectivity of the worlds they each carry within themselves.
I strive for radical adaptations as we continue to move toward a more just, equitable, diverse and inclusive world. I am committed to critical dance pedagogy as exemplified in Nyama McCarthy-Brown’s book Dance Pedagogy for a Diverse World. My hope is to work towards basking in the power that is the multi-cultural experience uniquely made within each class. I continue to learn from each of my classes and commit to allowing the power to hold a mercurial form between the community of the classroom. I hold all my lesson and unit plans loosely as needs make themselves known of the class. This play between the known and unknown, the structure and unstructured, will help build clarity in the simple and complex as we continue to build a growing snowball of learning; added to by the experience held by everyone involved.
I realize in this statement that there is of talk about power. Power must be decentralized. We must find ways of reparations for those whose power has been silenced and seek communal truths. As a teacher I am not afraid to agree that all lives matter and as such, black lives matter. Trans lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The voice of the generations to come after mine matters. It is this diversity, and its power that I commit to foster.
I aspire to fulfill the following in my role as a teacher: act as a guide, find and share resources, foster openness, love, inquisition and curiosity; classroom management, mediation when needed, set an example of ways of exchanging ideas, and provide roads of delving into critical thinking.
I am a dance artist. I dance to be unbound. I believe with this form there are no limitations other than my own. I cleave to this art form so strongly as I see freedom in its expression and an invitation to honor my very being. These values in dance is why I teach in this form. We all deserve freedom. We all deserve to honor ourselves.
Paulo Friere on the praxis of pedagogy states that it is a dialectical relationship that leads to new actions. I am excited by the thought of soaking in the history of experience so that we might be full to the brim as we venture into new actions: creating spaces of excited discussion and unlocking the passion for learning. As bell hooks writes in Teaching to Transgress I too dare to give fully of myself so that we might go “beyond the mere transmission of information … critical thought done in the classroom should inform our habits of being and ways of living outside the classroom.” I will hold the space for radical openness. As I hope for my students, I too commit to being continually engaged as well as wholly involved. Let us delve together.