As a teacher, I like to take each class as a fresh start, taking in the needs and energy of the people in the room. I encourage noticing, without judgment, areas and actions that are difficult for the student, be they balance, release, control, or simplicity. I encourage risk taking, reminding myself, and others, that sometimes the greatest risk is to be still or small or quiet. I encourage people to notice their neighbors, dance with other people, use architecture as a guide for support, and free themselves to be in the present moment.

I believe in releasing the mind from the constraints of past training, while harnessing the power of the body’s wisdom and all that has been learned. I think we can use the information we have gleaned in our technical education as a stepping-stone for more control, more release, more sensation, and greater willingness to take risks. Technique offered in class is designed to inspire the individual body towards its personal best, not towards a universal model of perfection. Task and content are stressed over shape and image. Students are encouraged to dance from the inside out, while developing a sense of relationship between the inside and outside in order to understand which internal actions create what noticeable actions.

I believe that we are each our own best teacher, but sometimes we need help clearing the path to our own knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes we need a guide to remind us of what we know, demand something we believe we cannot do, and laugh off what we are unable to do. I think it is important for a teacher to create an atmosphere that reminds students of the importance of their work, but also to be able to let go, to laugh, to bring life, and its many energies, into the classroom.
photo by scott shaw

photo by scott shaw

Advanced Modern Technique

This class explores the qualities of released and off-balance dancing while daring students to find disparate qualities of stillness and explosion.  Students are encouraged to develop an individual style driven by their internal life and the specificity of their bodies. By researching movement tasks as opposed to recreating shapes, students will begin to solve kinesthetic problems in a profound and personal way. We will focus on becoming compelling and magnetic performers, and working within a broad range of movements, from vigorous and athletic, to gestural and theatrical. The movement is approached from many systems: muscular, skeletal and nervous system, inviting dancers to work with versatility, intuition, strength, flow, stamina and ease. Multi-cultural inspirations are drawn from a broad range of musical styles and rhythmic complexities.

The warm up begins with a brief meditation aimed at focusing the mind, setting the student’s intentions for the class, and connecting the emotional and physical bodies. Floor work is geared towards developing fluidity while utilizing core strength. Standing warm up encourages the student to address balance and off balance movement, connect rhythmically to music and to movement, and to challenge habitual patterns and styles. Phrase work at the end of class allows for these elements to find a holistic playing field and offers students an opportunity to investigate personal choices in translating choreography. One of the main goals in class is that students will learn to interpret choreography deeply and personally. To this end, phrase work will span many styles, from vigorous and athletic, to gestural and theatrical.

Beginning Modern Technique

This class is open to all students interested in exploring dance within their own bodies. No previous movement training is necessary. Primarily created for students who are new to dance, it can also be extremely helpful for experienced movers who are new to modern dance. This class focuses on understanding the basic kinesthetics of modern dance.  Momentum, gravity, and the uses of weight will be explored while developing a secure sense of placement and strength.  The warm-up encourages freedom of movement by researching fluidity and balance as tools for stylistic exploration. 

The warm up begins with a brief meditation aimed at focusing the mind, setting the student’s intentions for the class, and connecting the emotional and physical bodies. Floor work is geared towards finding a balance between passive and active movement by encouraging release within a series of controlled movements. Standing warm up addresses the issues of balance, response to gravity, and isolation of body parts and develops the cerebral tools of memory and understanding. We will also work towards developing a stronger sense of direction, commitment to challenging both the mind and the body.

Composition

This class is designed to help emerging and advanced artists challenge their habits and move more deeply into their process. For younger choreographers, the class is geared towards the development of a personal process that is effective and inspiring. For more experienced choreographers, the goal is to break through choreographic patterns and habits that stifle new forms and fresh ideas. The course can range from full semester to single class. Some topics covered include:

  • Making Movement: ways to jumpstart the creative process in terms of creating vocabulary. How do you invent movement that is fresh and unique? How do you challenge habitual forms and patterns?
  • Making Movement Meaningful: creating material that is personal, expressive and narrative without falling into patterns of mime, cliché, or confessional movement. How do we speak through movement in a way that is open to interpretation but strongly felt? How do we use material from our lives to make work? Can our lives inspire phrase material that is daring, expressive, and true?
  • Daring the Space: developing the skills required to use space as a communicative tool. How does architecture between bodies and space create resonant imagery? Working with dancers, we examine strategies for staging bodies architecturally and rhythmically. We also examine dancers in space for satisfying and dynamic structures in order to understand architecture from the outside.
  • Finding Your Way: sensitizing the mind to your personal practice of making work. If you are new to making work, this class will be about trying on different possibilities for the creative process. The objective is to either deepen your commitment to s process that works, or experiment with various ways of creating work to find something inspirational.
  • Wild Words: using text as an element in a dance work, either spoken or as inspiration. What are the uses of text within a dance and how do we respect the power of language and of movement equally without overshadowing one or the other? How can both speaking and moving be act of survival?
  • Dancing for Two: the process of making duets, from either the outside or the inside. You are invited to bring a partner to class if you are in a collaborative process together, but you are free to come on your own. We will investigate techniques for creating vital, inventive vocabulary, organic partnering, and relationship building sequences. We will talk about the nature of relationship within duet structures and about ways to communicate that relationship through duet movement.
  • The Metaphor of Things: using objects for their metaphorical value as well to inspire, conceal, and communicate. How does an object absorb the correct amount of value within a dance? How are objects treated and what does that say about the person using them? How can an object reveal character, story, emotion and metaphor just by being onstage? How do we choose the appropriate objects for our needs?

Movement for Actors

This class is intended to develop greater sensitivity to the body in the effort to free oneself from habit, unconscious movement choices and strains and to create strength, control, and awareness in the physical structure. Class exercises will be drawn from Yoga, Grotowski work, Modern Dance, Composition, Contact Improvisation, and other sources. Work will be both physical and vocal and will incorporate training that develops both skills simultaneously. The premise behind this class is that both speaking and moving are acts of survival and expression and that the voice and body are part of the same physical being and must be trained in conjunction with one another. The actor’s authenticity is stored in the body, not the mind. Therefore, connecting to ideas through the body, rather than solely through the mind, is essential for an actor interested in being truthful to a task. Warm up will include both movement and vocal work and will work with both structured and improvised movement. Warm up is aimed at releasing tension and freeing the body from habit, misalignment and stylization. Tasks and exercises following warm up will be geared towards finding entry points for characterization, relationship development, increased expressiveness and movement as metaphor.

Contact Improvisation

This course is an introductory experiential class geared towards experienced movers. Contact improvisation is a cornerstone of contemporary partnering, but it is also an essential tool for many dancers in their quest for honest connections and authentic movement.  Class will follow a slow and safe progression of exercises aimed to release fear and improve sensitivity to the self and others. Focus is placed upon learning to listen acutely to both the self and partners.

Laban Movement Analysis

 This course is open to movers of any level, but can be geared toward trained dancers. We use LMA to unpack habits in both movement and the creative process, challenging the students to view both their choreography and movement patterns with fresh eyes. With Body, Effort, Space, and Shape as entry points, will will learn to zoom in, and back out, of particular aspects of movement in an attempt to fine-tune our specificity and efficiency.

Repertory

In this course, we create a work together, as a group. The focus is on translating specific movement as well as learning to generate movement within a Choreographer’s process. Special attention will be given to making material from assignments, releasing stylistic habit in order to translate material accurately, and working as an ensemble.  The work will be performance ready if at least 30 hours is given to the class.

Other classes are available upon request.