Teaching and Curriculum Development:
Contemporary and traditional dance are deeply wedded to the specific ways that they are practiced in communities locally and internationally. In the studio, students and professional practitioners of dance engage practices from Swing to postmodern concert dance physically and as a community. Dancers• experiences with dance, pedagogy, and dancemaking are also influenced by lived realities that are both structural and somatic. Dance practices and choreographies, as they cross borders both within communities and internationally, are diversely interpreted and labeled. My teaching philosophy as a dancer, choreographer, and scholar is to unpack — both in studio and in cultural and critical dance studies courses — the realities, experiences, histories, and theories that are produced by moving bodies.
Drawn from my teaching experiences in a variety of community and university settings, my pedagogy seeks to make connections between the world in which we live and the dynamics of race, gender, culture, translation, and geo-politics that shape dance practices, dance pedagogies, and dancemaking. For this reason, dance studies courses will often combine cultural theory as well as the work of others — including dance ethnographers, historians, and other critical thinkers — on bodily/embodied experiences. My goal as a teacher of dance studies is to aid students in investigating and fleshing out their understandings of movement in relation to a wide variety of social, cultural, and historical factors, in ways that will be useful to both undergraduates and graduate students in dance studies, movement, and choreography.
My pedagogy incorporates a focus on the specific community and cultural setting in which I work as well as the serious study of technique, cultural movement, or choreographic practice/investigation. I consistently draw upon the ways in which dancers experience reality and build knowledge of the body/mind (somatics), while engaging training methods for technique, improvisation, individual creative expression, movement, and dancemaking. I work with students as individuals and encourage their development with physical training in non-western and contemporary forms while employing methodologies and techniques drawn from my own experience as a teacher and dance maker.
My teaching philosophy arises from my artistic practice, research, and experiences living and working in a variety of culturally and geographically diverse locales. In a variety of classroom settings, I seek to facilitate student connections between dance practices and the world in which we live. My overall goal in any educational setting is to aid in expanding notions and practices of dancemaking, dance practice, and dance studies, to fully embrace the serious study of modern/contemporary and traditional dance forms as well as subsequent analyses of them through a variety theoretical and historical lenses. Ultimately, my teaching draws upon my own experience as a dance artist making inter-cultural work, and I believe that these experiences permit my effective teaching in studio movement and dance studies courses as well their hybrid variations.
My institutional teaching work encompasses the valences of theory and practice in hybrid courses and pedagogies at UNC Asheville and in the broader professional dance community. From 2008 to 2011, I taught a variety of courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago that conjoined dance studies with critical race theory, gender studies, and diaspora studies. I also had the opportunity to adapt dance curricula to children's needs and teaching goals in the Chicago Public Schools through teaching at Chicago Arts Partners in Education. For two years, 2013 – 2015, I taught technique, composition, and dance studies at the National Arts Conservatory in Abidjan. In 2015, I began teaching at UNC Asheville. In line with praxis and hybrid artistic work, I wrote and established a curriculum that espouses a question-based approach to dance, dancemaking, and dance research. This curriculum is postmodern and incorporates a variety of pedagogical valences that incorporate praxis. This curriculum emphasized the intersections of professional practice(s) in postmodern dance, improvisation, choreographic process, analysis of theory, individual growth, somatic awareness and creativity.