As teacher and as artist, I am committed to sharing thoughts, questions, tips, and accumulated experiences that inspire and encourage others - hopefully enhancing a collective, intellectual curiosity. Through my years of teaching, I have learned to seek out a balance between goals relating to technical mastery and abilities of individual students to make their own choices, reflect deeply, discover anew, develop personae, and encounter imaginary universes. In the meantime, I neither forget nor underestimate the power of collaboration: The magic in group work and the internal dynamics of individuals working together in space constantly reminds me of how important it is to communicate clearly and keep an open mind.
Teaching requires a dynamic interplay between what is happening inside the teacher and what happens with them in the room. The act of teaching and my professional artistic practice have long been interconnected: They are in constant relation and evolving together. I often borrow ideas from my artistic work according to how relevant they are at a pedagogical level. I then invent work sessions and exercises that support the mechanisms and technical needs of the scenic idea. I select concepts that can be taken out of context and appropriated by other bodies, other minds - keeping the essence but also becoming filters for new, freshly arising materials. By being a teacher and at times being a physical example or inspiration to other bodies, I’ve discovered clarity in my movement and improved upon my analytic capacity to look for solutions, comments, tips, and guidelines for problems and surprises. During my pedagogical encounters, I perform more than demonstrate when the time comes. Teaching has undeniably become an important part of my professional life. Now, I strongly believe that the relationships between the act of teaching and one’s artistic practice is often undervalued.
I have led groups of participants with very diverse profiles - from university students to circus professionals and amateurs to all kinds of people interested in performing arts. Though I am most often working with professional dancers of all ages, skills, interests, and backgrounds, in every workshop I lead, I learn something new because my way of teaching depends on my experience inasmuch as it requires my intuition and adaptability to the group. When I see and respond to individuals in the room, I realize the person engaged in the act of teaching is a real master.
As a leader, I never make distinctions in my approach to young students or to professional dancers. I believe that delegating responsibilities helps individuals develop commitment, focus, curiosity, and independence, and I strive to offer everyone important experiences that can be used in contexts beyond professionally-motivated choices.
Because of who I am and what I do, when I am teaching, my integrity and emotional ethics come into play. I believe that empathy is an essential part of the human being, and if we accept it for what it is, then our vulnerability make us stronger, not weaker. I want to help people around me grow as sentient, artistic beings and not just become better movers.
I have an eclectic mind and a restless spirit, but I also have the capacity and determination to maintain discipline and perseverance in both my professional training and my artistic practice.
I aim towards a constant exploration of different disciplines and to put into question my own habits.
I won't adjust or accommodate in what I do, nor will I take anything for granted.
Choreographic Laboratories / creative workshops
As much as we wish, there is no manual for how to choreograph a dance performance.
Everyone makes their own rules when they’re working, and they most probably change them over the years, too - if not every single time a creation process begins. However, there is the possibility to give some examples, and most importantly, to encourage students to make their own choices, to work on their abilities to present ideas, to fuel their imaginations, and to guide them in making decisions that accept or acknowledge the place of error and the unpredictable.
Together, looking at the senses, the different, imaginary vocabularies in the creative process, we open ourselves up, and we try to enhance expressive abilities. Becoming active audience members for each other and training to know when and how we use objective or subjective eyes on the propositions that arise from our encounters, I give us time and space for questioning - both collectively and individually - as I encourage self-reflection. Learning to both recognise and analyse different ways of working or framing work, I use creative laboratories to expand possibilities for consciousness and use of our physical, conceptual, and personal motors. Presenting and reading ideas together, we share in the courage to create.
Technical Contemporary Class Approach
I use different exercises and games, lead improvisations, and offer tasks that help participants improve awareness and access playful bodies, spirits, intuition, and instinctive motion.
Attention to specific technicalities and detailed work is an important part of my approach, as well.
While protecting the body, I rely on knowledge of our skeletal structure and muscular chains and explore physical mechanisms that allow us to reach extremes. As I create a demanding environment without fear, and we work in our bodies, I offer tools to enhance fluidity and freedom in movement, and I invite students to understand ways to recycle and save energy. I often use metaphors and images (associative concepts or idealized physical actions) to produce or enhance new kinesthetic experiences and awareness. I also give my students tools for partnering work and look for balance between strength and resilience in mental, physical, and emotional ways.
As we work, I include theatrical inputs with specific energy and clear images that give meaning to movement and elicit performance rather than just learning and execution. In this way, my work in the classroom combines the specific, physical language of dance with the human emotion and drama that motivates theater.
(Thanks to Kevin Fay for helping to organize and put in words my thoughts and ideas.)