teaching

 

I teach dance, movement, somatics, dance and somatics history, embodiment philosophy, and dance theory. I am a passionate educator with a deep belief in process-oriented learning, and student-directed learning outcomes. With a deep sensitivity to multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, I lead workshops and master classes around the United States, including the Bates Dance Festival where I have served as Associate Director of the Young Dancers Workshop since 2016. Currently, I am pursuing an MFA in Dance at the University of Maryland, College Park, where I am instructor-of-record of several courses, including Contemporary Modern Technique, Fundamentals of Ballet, Introduction to Dance, and Somatics Around the Globe.

Videos of movement classes are available below, courtesy of the Bates Dance Festival.

teaching philosophy
 

I teach dance, movement, somatics, history, embodiment philosophy, and theory. I am a passionate educator with a deep belief in process-oriented learning, and student-directed learning outcomes. With a deep sensitivity to multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, my classes center equity and student-centered critical pedagogy. My students’ engagement with course material is a radical act of deep and active empathetic listening leading to action. In short, my students learn how to learn, engage, and interrogate knowledge.

 

My courses build a culture based on values decided by conversation with the students. We discuss these values in regards to education as a whole, and how these values distill to course content. Confidence, curiosity, boldness, and empathy, are at the root of my pedagogy. In addition, when teaching movement, I’ll offer specific values such as rhythmic specificity, tonal and qualitative range, performative presence, groundedness, lift, nuance, and clarity. I encourage all students to share their own ideas, and desired outcomes  and stances with cultural specificity, and speak up when moments of tension arise, and if values are in conflict or even direct opposition. These moments are some of the most exciting, when the class culture actively cultivates space for embodied differences to come together in learning. 

 

In the studio, class exercises speak directly to a multiplicity of physicalities and options that allow for different approaches to become tonal frictions within the body intellect. Class material, which typically builds on a concept or theme, often culminates in a combination of improvisation and phrase-work. This is not just a top-down approach to depositing expert information into passive students, but more importantly a chance for the student to physically try on an idea, to put on someone else’s shoes, and get as intimate with a creative or technical principle as possible.

 

My classes maintain an inclusive environment in which all students will feel equally invited to actively engage with course material. My statements, exercises, and phrase-work provoke, push against, and stretch the students specific capacity knowing for how they exist in relation to the material. I decentralize my own authority with this structure: between readings, physical exercises, experiential improvisations, or phrase-work, I always ask first for reports from the field and questions. I do this before I give notes or feedback, which offer insight based on what I see and questions I may have that can deepen and provoke thought and execution. The students’ sensed experience working with the material is privileged over my own impulses or desired outcomes.

 

Ultimately, I apply a holistic model to my teaching: the values, skills, and inquiries developed and appreciated in my class are relevant and applicable to students’ lives beyond the educational setting. Students leave my classes empowered and more fully-embodied, excited to create, perform, and engage in their multidisciplinary fields as thoughtful and intelligent citizens.

diversity and inclusion

 

The ongoing work of dismantling historic power structures of prejudice, exclusion, and marginalization within academic spaces is a responsibility all educators must hold together. As such, I am deeply committed to diversity and inclusivity in all spaces. I am a white cis-gender gay male in the field of dance leadership and education. Holding awareness of my privileges in academic spaces, I maintain a track record of commitment to equity and antiracism, demonstrated by my ongoing work with the University of Maryland, College Park, Bates Dance Festival, and the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute, as well as my tenure with Zenon Dance Company.

 

Dance is not, as it is too often stated, universal. Rather, dance is broad, dynamic, and always in flux. Dance is a collection of culturally specific embodied art forms of movement that are constantly evolving and in conversation with each other. My expertise is in American modern, postmodern, and contemporary dance forms and history, which have all been implicated in the erasing, appropriating, and silencing of non-Eurocentric artists and movement expressions. In my history and theory classes, I uphold a historiographic lens, encouraging students and myself to constantly question authoritative stances in writing, curation, and documentation. In dance and somatic movement classes, I acknowledge the language I use in the classroom has the power to uphold or dismantle notions of authority. For example, dance training has, for too long, relied on the preposterous concept of a universal “neutral,” when discussing bodies, techniques, and posture. Specifically, contemporary dance tends to assume “neutral” is some sort of parallel stance with an upright pelvis, based on Western anatomical models. However, this is no more neutral than a tilted forward pelvis in many Africanist forms, or even ballet’s first position, which assumes a certain amount of turnout. The use of “neutral” privileges a universal ideal that excludes many culturally-specific forms of movement. I resist using “neutral” from my teaching vocabulary, and alternatives such as “center” or “home.” This small but powerful adjustment exemplifies conscious use of vocabulary and critical discourse within the classroom.

 

As Associate Director of the Young Dancers Workshop at the Bates Dance Festival, a summer training intensive and performance series, I am directly responsible for hiring and curating our teams of faculty, mentors, and interns who work with teen students. The festival is held in Lewiston, ME, an historically white area, which has recently become a major hub of Somali immigrants. Representation within and safety for the student body is extremely important to me, as is the substance and content of the courses we offer our diverse body of students who fly in from around the world. In addition, I have started organizing community outreach events built around queer visibility, such as a student performance at the Lewiston/Auburn Second Annual Pride Festival in 2019, spreading awareness of the importance of celebrating difference, and building solidarity between communities.

 

I am committed to students having access to a diverse range of classes and ideas. At BDF, I have developed coursework that is specifically designed to ready students for a dance career in higher education, with broad awareness of deep-seated problems in dance history and education. I have implemented dance historiography and critical dance studies coursework into our everyday class schedule, an extremely rare find in the teen training circuit. Our curriculum puts equal weight and importance on training in street styles and party dances as it does on modern dance and ballet. By hiring teachers who are grounded in the Africanist and Jazz roots of improvisation, I have loosened the western dance canon’s grip on improvisation, so that students develop keen insight into history, rhythm and musicality across dance forms.

 

During my tenure with Zenon Dance Company, I spearheaded 36 educational residencies in different settings throughout Minnesota. Many of these residencies were held in college and university dance departments, however a priority for me was to offer dance education within spaces and communities that traditionally have been marginalized and have had little access to arts education. This includes both indigenous and white communities in rural northern Minnesota, where arts education funding, including music, visual art, and dance, has been completely cut in the K-8 level. Additionally, these residencies served low-income communities of color in North Minneapolis and St. Paul. Throughout this work, I collaborated on creating curriculum and classes that utilized dance as a mechanism to engage with broadly applicable skills to their course material, individual cultural backgrounds, and personal lives. Engaging music and subject matter specific to the backgrounds of the students, these classes culminated in performances celebrating the students’ work and investigation in rich artistry and cultural heritage.

 

I am actively involved in strategic initiatives within arts and movement education organizations to increase equity and inclusion, specifically around race, gender, and sexuality. Since 2020, I have served as Chair of the Dr. Ida Rolf Istitute’s Committee for Diversity and Anti-racism. In a short time, I have organized specific actions around recruitment, curriculum development, and scholarships and funding to increase the inclusion of underrepresented groups within DIRI’s programs. Additionally, I am facilitating a task-force of faculty to generate new courses for faculty to learn and engage critical pedagogy within their classrooms. I recognize there is much work to do to continue to address institutional and personal power structures limiting accessibility and equity, and am thrilled to do my part. Educational spaces thrive when there is an open acknowledgement and educational exchange and embraces and celebrates difference.

 

experience

University of Maryland, College Park (2019-current)

Instructor of Record: Contemporary Modern Technique, Introduction to Dance, Fundamentals of Ballet, Somatic Process

Teaching Assistant: Broadway Mashup: Remixing America Through Musical Theater, Race and Corporeality in Performance

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (2017-18)

Instructor of Record: Modern Dance Technique

Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, ME (2016-current)

Courses Taught: Modern Technique, Contemporary Practices, Composition, Yoga

Zenon Dance Company and School, Minneapolis, MN (2011-2019)

Facilitated and taught 36 week-long creative residencies throughout the state of Minnesota in K-12 and

undergraduate settings. Residencies included three to six classes a day in improvisation, composition,

modern, jazz, and partnering techniques. Full list available upon request.

Additional Master Classes and Workshops

Colby College (Waterville, ME)

Bates College (Lewiston, ME)

Connecticut College (New London, CT)

Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)

SUNY-Brockport (Brockport, NY)

St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN)

Carleton College (Northfield, MN)

Minnesota State University, Mankato (Mankato, MN)

ACDA-Mid-Atlantic (University of Maryland, College Park)

National High School Dance Festival (Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA)

Regional High School Dance Festival (Madison, WI)

Regional High School Dance Festival (Norfolk, VA)

YoungDance (Saint Paul, MN)

Point Dance Ensemble (Stevens Point, WI)