TEACHING PHILOSOPHY AND CORE VALUES
As a teaching artist and facilitator, I use movement and creative process to create vibrant, thoughtful, and courageous spaces where people connect meaningfully to themselves, each other, and their worlds.
I work in schools and classrooms, dance studios and recreational centers, gyms and basketball courts, or wherever there is space to move. I work with people who identify as dancers, people who “used to be” dancers, and people who say they are “not dancers;” with children, youth, adults, and seniors; with parents, families, students, teachers, business-people, researchers, and other artists; in and across spectrums of age, experience, development, mobility, ability, size, cultural background and profession.
My approach to education and facilitation is grounded in a holistic philosophy that views human development as the integrated, connected growth of body, mind, and spirit within community. This holistic philosophy informs my core values:
I equally value students’ physical, academic, creative, and social development. Dance is an active process of meaning-making that engages body, mind, and creativity while building social skills. By working through this medium, I facilitate learning that is integrated and responsive to many different learning styles and needs.
I bring my whole self to teaching. I believe in honoring students by being genuine, and seek to contextualize my work by sharing my influences and personal experiences. I draw from my artistic interests, knowledge, and practices to inform my teaching, and in turn, teaching provides inspiration and challenges my assumptions and habits about my art form.
I honor student agency in the learning process. At the beginning of a class, I remind students that they are in charge of their own bodies, boundaries, and decisions. I work to create environments, structures, and experience that will bring forth the unique knowledge of the people in the room.
I work to build inclusive, collaborative communities that support risk. Within an individual class, I incorporate social interaction and collaborative processes that break down social barriers between students and create a warm, welcoming environment.
I encourage questions and critical thinking. Understanding that doubt, discomfort, and uncertainty are opportunities for growth, I encourage students (and myself) to turn discomfort into inquiry. Recognizing the limits of my own knowledge, I am not afraid to admit when I don’t know.
Creative Aging & Physically Integrated Dance
Oct. 2016-Present: Teaching artist, Mature Moving Me
- Dance and creative process for adults 55+. Mesa Arts Center. Mesa, AZ
Dec. 7, 2017: Teaching Artist, SMOCA Memory Lounge
- 2 hour creative dance-making workshop for adults with dementia and their caregivers/partners. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Oct. 2016-Mar. 2017: Project Consultant, Bridging the Divide
- Partnership with ASU Dance students and Friendship Village Senior Living Community. Funded by 2016-17 City of Tempe/ASU Partnership Grant.
Oct. 2016-Dec. 2016: Teaching artist, Movement for Dementia
- Oakwood Creative Care. Mesa, AZ
Sep 2015-Apr. 2016: Instructor & co-founder, Dance Mixability
- Inclusive dance program for intergenerational, mixed abilities group. St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Phoenix, AZ
Jan-May 2016: Inaugural Cohort Member, AZ Creative Aging Teaching Artists Institute
- Selected for participation by Arizona Commission on the Arts
METHODS AND APPROACHES
My teaching methods and approaches are tailored to the unique needs and population of each teaching engagement.
Regardless of the context, my goal is that students do not just learn to dance, but learn through dance, since learning is most powerful when it occurs through direct experience that engages the senses and the physical body. I have yet to encounter a concept that cannot be approached through the body, movement, and creative process.
Depending on the context, my teaching and facilitation can take many different forms:
Arts integration unpacks and investigates academic subjects through dance, within the classroom environment.
Creative play uses imaginative prompts and exercises to disrupt habits, break through blocks and unlock new ways of seeing, moving, relating, and making
Improvisation on the solo and group level builds skills of communication, expression, and listening
Creative process workshops develop skills, tools, and practices for composition, choreography, and the creative process, emphasizing collaborative process and collective creation
Technical training develops skills and physical capacity to perform a range of dance styles, including contemporary, modern, ballet, and jazz dance techniques
Critical dialogue utilizes participatory exercises from movement and theatre to prompt constructive dialogue about topics that are relevant to the socio-political/community context
Children & Youth
Sep 2016-April 2017: Instructor, Intro to Kids Jazz and Hip Hop
- Phoenix Center for the Arts. Phoenix, AZ.
May-July 2015: Assistant Teacher, Performing Arts Abroad
- Internship placement at Varium Escola de Dansa, Barcelona, Spain. Co-taught in Spanish
May 2014: International Volunteer, Movement Exchange
- Taught workshops & dance classes in Spanish and English at Aldea SOS Orphanage, Malambo Orphanage, Danilo Pérez Foundation, University of Panamá. Panama City, Panamá
2014: Co-facilitator, Leaders and Followers Workshop
- Two hour workshop exploring youth leadership through movement. Co-Facilitated with Jasmine Benton. César Chávez Youth Leadership Institute. Tempe, AZ
2013 Co-facilitator, Participatory Theatre and College Sex Culture
- Training workshop for student advocates (Devils in the Bedroom & I ALWAYS Get Consent) on the use of Theatre of the Oppressed to educate students about sexual wellness and rape culture. Co-facilitated with Sabra Nuel, Gustavo Rivera, & Lynn Parry. Fieldwork for Theatre for Social Change (THP 482). Instructor: Asantewa Sunni-Ali. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Physically Integrated Dance & Creative aging
I work to expand access to meaningful dance experiences for movers across spectrums of age, physical abilities, and backgrounds.
My interest in dance and creative aging was sparked by participating in an intergenerational dance project under the direction of Elizabeth Johnson, and fortified by watching my grandparents age. In 2015, I began to assist Mature Moving Me, one of the few dance classes created for mature adults in the Valley, at the Mesa Arts Center. In 2016, I was invited by Christy Dargus and Brooke Brown to join their dream of creating an inclusive, physically integrated, and intergenerational dance program, which became Dance Mixability. That first year, I realized just how much I had to learn in order to become an effective educator and facilitator, so I applied for the Arizona Arts Commission's Creative Aging Teaching Artist's institute and was overjoyed to be selected as one of 11 teaching artists for the inaugural institute. Through this incredible program, I received mentorship, intensive training, and exposure to best practices in the field of Creative Aging from local teaching artists Tessa Windt and Elizabeth Johnson, and notable guest artists including Liz Lerman (Dance Exchange), Anne Basting (Islands of Milwaukee, The Penelope Project), Gary Glazner (Alzheimer's Poetry Project), and Maria Genné (Kairos Alive! Choreography of Care). I was able to apply this new knowledge directly through a teaching engagement at Oakwood Creative Care, a daytime dementia care center, and returned to the Mesa Arts Center to help bring back the Mature Moving Me program, this time as the instructor.
After graduating from Arizona State University in 2016, I was again a grateful recipient of support from the Arizona Arts Commission, receiving a Professional Development Grant to attend the Dance Exchange Summer Institute, where I was immersed in the distinctive philosophies and core practices utilized by the Dance Exchange to create their riveting, community-driven projects. Some major influences at this institute included: dance exchange founder Liz Lerman, artistic director Cassie Meador, Elizabeth Johnson, Meghan Abadoo, John Borstel, Reggie Daniels & Amie Dowling, and Alison Orr. Much of my work as a teacher, facilitator, and creator since has drawn from the collective knowledge of the Dance Exchange and the Dance Exchange Toolbox.
Since then, I've been privileged to collaborate with organizations including Oakwood Creative Care, the ASU Art Museum, the Mesa Arts Center, the Phoenix Center for the Arts, the 2016 DaCi Dance Festival, Combine Studios, the Sojourner Center, and the César Chávez Leadership Institute to create meaningful dance experiences for humans across spectrums of age, experience, and ability.
Family & Intergenerational Dance
March-April, 2018: Co-facilitator, Family Dance Jams
- Intergenerational contact improvisation dance workshops co-facilitated with Sydney Jackson. Project funded by City of Tempe Vibrant City Grant. Escalante Multigenerational Center, Tempe, AZ.
Sep. 24, 2016: Ballet Instructor, daCi AZ Day of Dance
- Intro to ballet through creative movement for parents and children. daCi AZ Day of Dance hosted by Sara Malan McDonald. Phoenix, AZ.
Sep. 5 2015 & May 7, 2016 Teaching Artist, ASU Art Museum Family Day
- Participatory dance workshops for parents and children based on current gallery exhibits. ASU Art Museum. Tempe, AZ.
Sep. 2015-May 2016: Volunteer Dance Instructor, Movement Exchange at ASU
- Dance classes for adult residents and children in residence at domestic violence shelter. Sojourner Center. Phoenix, AZ.