The role of the teacher is that of a guide, enabling students to be in charge of their personal sensory learning experiences inside their own body. I consider somatics imperative to dance. The body is the medium, thus the dancer must be in active dialogue with their soma. Practices such as Pilates, yoga, Body-Mind Centering, release technique, improvisation, contact improvisation, meditation and other somatic modalities serve as inroads to sensing and working with the dancer-body in both technique classes and creative and compositional practices.
Four main ingredients of my dance class are alignment, comprehension of movement vocabulary, musicality and artistry. In technique classes of ballet, modern and postmodern dance, I utilize contemporary and classical dance concepts in relationship to somatics. I combine the tradition and vocabulary of Western concert dance with the science and art of somatic practices. I guide students toward opportunities to be creative, train the body and mind, enjoy and have fun.
In teaching alignment, I work from the idea of the body as three globes: 1) the pelvic girdle, 2) rib cage and shoulder girdle and 3) the globe of the neck and head. To find a neutral, resting position, with the globes dynamically stabilized in balance with one another, students can build an efficient home base from which to move, train, dance and create. Drawing upon concepts from Body-Mind Centering, Pilates and yoga in understanding corporeality, dance students can more efficiently and safely train the body for the physical expectations requisite in dance. This allows for a safe and thoughtful approach to movement training.
Comprehension of movement vocabulary exercises the brain in the retention of movement material and increases motor learning via dance. Learning how to learn movement phrases can increase cognitive functioning by creating new neural pathways. In my ballet, modern and postmodern dance classes, I teach students set phrase material which they must learn and reproduce. Technique classes begin on the floor with somatic investigations, move into center phrase work, then transition into across-the-floor phrases and finish with a larger combination. In comprehending and replicating the complexities of the movement combinations, dance students increase memory retention, movement memory and motor learning.
In understanding the relationship between music and movement, students can learn to both count and sound the music. In my dance class, participants will explore what type of musicality they prefer by learning to hear and count music as well as learning how to sound the music with the voice.
Artistry imbues the student’s own essence into the phrase work. Tying together movement vocabulary comprehension, alignment and musicality, students synthesize the steps into personal expressions. Improvisation is an avenue I use to help participants develop and discover personal artistry. By dropping the mind into the body and developing a dialogue with the soma, students can explore different ways of moving.
Dance is something to be enjoyed — a creative experience. I encourage my students to practice a connection of the body and mind to experience the pleasure of working with their bodies, allowing for body and mind to work together in harmony and balance. Dance is focus and concentration juxtaposed and amalgamated with creativity and freedom.