Photo: Daymon Gardner
Photo: Dat Nguyen
Photo: John Allen
I practice inclusive, physical feminism in my teaching. I am interested in destigmatizing the physical body, its functions, and its existence through the equalization of life experiences across all spectrums. Through inclusive feminism, I value and attempt to equalize all bodies, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or any other identification. Through physical feminism, I recognize the worth of the physical body, its abilities, and its functions. In the classroom and in the studio, I find that it is impossible for me to disregard my own life experiences, as well as my students' life experiences. Through inclusive, physical feminism, I value a collaborative learning process as I believe that each body in the classroom has knowledge worth sharing.
The act of dance is an act of controlling physicality, but it is not my job as an instructor to dictate how the body should be controlled. I see my role of an instructor as an observer, a questioner, and a challenger. I observe my students without judgment, I question why they make the choices they do and I challenge them to try something that might be new to them. This is all done without criticism, but instead with encouragement. My goal whenever I teach, in theory, choreography, or technique, is to facilitate a space where my students feel encouraged to ask questions both of themselves and their experiences. Asking questions is how everyone in the classroom, instructor included, grows. Through this process, I focus on creating a safe space for exploration of questions of social identity and ultimately use this exploration to create connected, intimate, physical choreography that challenges dancers' perceptions of performance and of self.
Everyone has a different life path, and it is my job as a teacher to help students learn about themselves and their interests and illuminate the next step of their journey. From a practical point of view, I value well-rounded interests and strong writing skills in my students. This broadens their points of view and makes them better prepared for different life and career experiences, as well as challenges their creative thinking. They are also better prepared for articulating their individual point of view. In addition to teaching technique and composition, I value dance and art history, because art is a reflection and an impetus of change. On a personal level, I am able to connect my different scholarly interests to dance including by utilizing elements of physics, cultural studies, and historical lenses, to name a few. I encourage global learning in my students as a different point of view is essential for learning about your own point of view, as well as learning how to value individuals with different live experiences.
In short, I believe in personal learning. I believe that the learner can only learn if given the opportunity to think for themselves and find their own connections to the material, whether it is in creating choreography, performance, scholarly research, or education. I believe that the teacher has the duty to challenge the students to think for themselves, and encourage them in their exploration. I also believe that the teacher needs to challenge the students in their questioning of themselves and push them when they need to be pushed. However, the teacher should also encourage the students by reminding them that what they have to offer as a person is valued because of their personal lived experiences. Learning and teaching are both active processes and a give and take among all parties. It is my job as a teacher to help every student find the value in what they have to offer and to utilize that as a way to help them and everyone in the classroom continue to learn.
Photo: Ching-i Chang Bigelow