TEACHING AND WORKSHOPS
Photo of Feet Amass by Bicking Photography
Photo of Jumatatu Poe and Patricia Dominguez by Bill Hebert
My dances dam off imagined environments, ponding strangeness. They are always in flux, demanding ecological shifts, building and unbuilding what is tangible or perceivable. I am interested in how pushing moves the pusher, not just the pushed. I like to repurpose the mundane into the monumental. I play with gross and fabulous interchangeably. I use resistance as a way to participate. I am all about a deep vibrating howl.
I have always felt deeply, empathizing until I was unable to differentiate where I ended and the not-me began. I dance to deterritorialize the terrain I inhabit - to deterritorialize myself. I dance so that I can feel a world that makes some sense to me. It is neither logical nor linear, but it is always about survival. I often say I am unearthing something while I am dancing, asking for my body to offer me back memories and experiences so that I can build monsters and aliens with foraged artifacts that have been left in my intestines, muscles, and scars. Dancing is how I radically reclaim these parts of myself as sensational.
My practices use a deep and rigorous somatosensorial research of my body’s episodes, self-reflective of the past and potentializing the future. I transpose anatomical and biological research into the studio using it as a filter for how I investigate myself, my interactions with others and objects. Researching pleasure within myself deepens my curiosity and empathy for others. My dances teach me my own potential for being… being alone, being connected, being en masse, and I hope that they reveal something about the social, political, and cultural fabric in which we live. I focus on interdependence and actively choose to invest in collaborative practices. My dances insist on a future where individuated collectivity purposes a model for sustainability. We barter, help, and heal one another.
About My Work
I honor multiplicity.
I believe dance can push physical limits without creating violence against one’s body. To cultivate this belief is to dismantle hierarchical structures and center discovery and curiosity in my dance and creative practices. I celebrate the variety of histories, traditions, and goals that each student brings with them. I don’t expect blank slates and am uninterested in universal truths. Instead, our experiences nourish a fertile learning environment. We all come from different backgrounds and have different capabilities, tendencies, and habits. My teaching asks us to consider how we imagine ourselves inside the dance. Are the strategies we used yesterday useful today to help perceive the potential of tomorrow? I hope that by thinking of technique as an active process we will begin to experience ourselves in the in-between as we disassemble and reassemble. The class is a space in which each person gets to play in the liminal space of what is not-yet-learned. Each classroom has its own thumbprint of needs and accomplishments. I strive to create an environment in which I can promote physical excellence, an expressive, dynamic range, and deep care for oneself. The classroom is a real world. My students are real as are their experiences and voices. I believe that by amplifying each individuals voice in their learning process we will amplify a collective learning which can be enacted upon inside or outside of the studio.
I teach to provide resources.
I use anatomical and qualitative imagery to cultivate rich sensory feedback/forward that is individually specific as we move together. I include proprioceptive training, process-based goal setting, and anatomical embodiment so that each dancer can develop a toolbox. The tools increase expressivity and responsivity as a way to locate pleasure and joy. Transmission through increased sensitivity and awareness is not just for the benefit of the choreography but to provide resources for recentering the needs of each individual. The insights I offer in class are abundant; a multifaceted approach to creating clarity in movement so that students can investigate what works best for them. Imagery work requires serious focus and develops nuanced sensorial tactics for an investigative process. I have been studying how dynamic neurocognitive imagery affects a dancer with Eric Franklin since 2007. The Franklin Method has deeply influenced my research into healthy training, restorative practices, and student-centered teaching. My methods train our bodymind through rigorous practices that enhance our sensation as well as our capacity to self-asses.
There is endless poetry in the body.
As I study the nuances of bodily systems I am continually provided examples for how to be alongside others. I use biomimicry, creating methods for investigating movement based on how the body organizes and collaborates, to create possible ways of being (alone or together). I ask, “How can we be acutely aware of our own sensation as a way to truly engage and connect with our environment, and one another?” I ask them to reflect on what makes them edit, shy away, become small, or disengage. How could we be fully ourselves and pay attention to those around us? How do we practice not getting rid of ourselves to make room for others? How can we acknowledge this as a dance in space? I feel these questions allow us to practice technique with an intrinsic investigation. In this way, to practice dance with others is to activate a social exploration. I invite students to practice with radical joy and self-respect. I hope we can witness this in one another as a way to feel emboldened by our collective exploration, sensitivity, and expression.
Teaching is a tender action.
To educate, I must connect to the joy of interaction, curiosity, and labor while allowing myself the space to un-know, question and learn myself. I often refer to the following quote:
“As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.”
- bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
I continue to refer to this as it helps me reflect on my humanistic artfulness, validating a correlation between researching joy and pleasure within one’s self as a way to deepen relationships, curiosity, empathy, as well as understanding. My dance and movement practices thrive by genuinely acknowledging the humanity of those in which I am alongside, and together we actively create an environment in which learning is permissible. I consider the participants and myself to both be subject. I believe development takes place in cycles rather than a straight trajectory. We all wax and wane with moments of complete clarity as well as turbidity. As an educator, I hold space for our collective potentiality; sensing what is undiscovered by questioning what we understand. A classroom is a place for us to support one another's processing by celebrating each other’s growth, inspiring one another to explore, and increasing our capacity to sense ourselves and others.