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. My artistry is inseparably, dynamically connected to teaching: I draw from my artistic interests, knowledge, and practices to inform my teaching, and 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. As a teacher and facilitator, I work to create an environment and class structure that will facilitate learning, and utilize questions and reflective dialogue to help students build their own knowledge.

  • 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. Over the course of an ongoing residency or program, I work to deepen trust and build open relationships within the group community, so that students and participants build their willingness to take risks and push boundaries.

  • 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.

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

Contemporary dance class, Movement Exchange at ASU, Tempe, AZ. 

Contemporary dance class, Movement Exchange at ASU, Tempe, AZ. 

Physically Integrated Dance & Creative aging Experience

Allyson's 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 her grandparents age. In 2015, Allyson began to assist a dance class for mature adults at the Mesa Arts Center. In 2016, Allyson  cofounded and instructed Dance Mixability, an inclusive, physically integrated, and intergenerational dance program. In January 2016, Allyson was selected by the Arizona Arts Commission as one of 11 teaching artists for the inaugural Creative Aging Teaching Artist Institute, where she 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).  

After graduating from Arizona State University with her B.F.A. in dance and certificate in Socially Engaged Practice, Allyson received a Professional Development Grant from the Arizona Arts Commission to attend the 2016 Dance Exchange Summer Institute, where she studied with Dance Exchange founder Liz Lerman, artistic director Cassie Meador, and other notable artists including Elizabeth Johnson, Meghan Abadoo, John Borstel, Reggie Daniels & Amie Dowling, and Alison Orr.

Allyson has taught and facilitated classes and workshops 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, and was as a consultant for Bridging the Divide: A youth and elders creative collaboration. Currently, Allyson is the instructor for "Mature Moving Me," a creative movement class for adults 60 and up at the Mesa Arts Center.

TEACHING AND FACILITATION EXPERIENCE 

Creative Aging, Intergenerational, & Physically Integrated Dance

 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-Present       Teaching artist, Mature Moving Me

Dance and creative process for adults 55+

·      Mesa Arts Center. Mesa, AZ

 

Oct. 2016-Dec. 2016Teaching 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

 

Feb-Mar 2015             Assistant & substitute teacher, Mature Moving Me

·      Mesa Arts Center. Mesa, AZ

 

Dance for Children & Youth

Sep 2016-April 2017Intro to Kids Jazz and Hip Hop

·      Phoenix Center for the Arts. Phoenix, AZ.

 

2015-May 2016          Volunteer, Movement Exchange at ASU

·      Sojourner Center. Phoenix, AZ.

 

May-July 2015           Assistant Teacher, Performing Arts Abroad

·      Internship placement at Varium Escola de Dansa, Barcelona, Spain.                                                                              

 

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

           

Community Classes and Workshops

 

            2017                            Spring Sampler Classes

                                                Technique, Improvisation, and Choreography for Senior Adults

·      Mesa Arts Center. Mesa, AZ

 

            2016                            Ballet Instructor

·      DaCi Dance Festival. Phoenix, AZ.

 

            2015                            Living Mobiles- Family Workshops                                                                          

Four participatory dance workshops based on the art of Alexander Calder

·      ASU Art Museum Day, ASU Art Museum. Tempe, AZ.

 

            2015                            Dance Kitchen: Cooking from scratch

Dance-making/creative practice workshop for university students

·      Movement Exchange at ASU. Tempe, AZ.

 

            2014                            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                            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