Monday, March 15, 2010

Teaching Balance

I am a teacher. At least for 8 weeks. In a High School in Syracuse NY that houses a fabulous Arts Department and, you guessed it, a dance studio -
A big, beautiful dance studio (though it shrinks when you put 25 dancing bodies in it).
Between 7:30am and 12:30 pm 105 teenagers join me in the constant search for expression and keeping ourselves entertained.

As dancers who work with me in Kinesis Project know, my process is not linear - its almost completely alinear - if that's a word. This is a challenge for young dancers who have been given dances for a long time that go from A-B-C or maybe A-C-B....if I am really IN a process it may look more like J-5-G-T-9,1,2,F....

I'm not sure if I can explain why that is - its possible someone who loves me could, however.

For most of my classes here I have challenged myself to work the way they do - Four of the classes are learning movement, or generating from my base movement and then I am building the order in a good 'ol A,B,C kinda way -
The ones who are really getting the brunt of my un-line-ing are the Ensemble group.

My Ensemble class is the last of my day, they are the most advanced dancers and the most willing to deal with a nutty choreographer (although I think the others like the last part too.)
Some of the classes are getting more focus in circus skill, and this week I'll be starting an after school experience for those who want to learn more partnering skills when I'm able to give more one-on-one attention in the "please don't fall down" and "look at how cool this is" categories.

I don't give homework, I don't always have the best behaving classes, but I do feel like since I've been here there are new bits of information I can give these bodies - hopefully leaving them stronger more willing to try strange things in movement because "one time we had a guest teacher and she always asked why are you doing that movement?, taught us to stand on one another made us do push-ups on Mondays and crunches on Tuesdays!"

My hope is that most are learning to listen to one another just a bit more, to balance lovely with not-so-lovely and story with movement. They are teaching me patience and to look a bit deeper into their eyes when they say "I can't do that."

The teacher I stay with here said: "I won't teach them science in 41 minutes, but I can show them how to be people that make better choices."
In my case, it's not quite possible to get into the details of dance technique - I've got to pray someone else can do that - but I can ask them to calmly listen to one another, teach them ways of getting stronger and show them how to find movement they haven't yet experienced.


Nina Morel said...

Lovely piece... maybe teachers are all choreographers in a way... and all choreographers are teachers. It is so important to keep the arts in schools!

Melissa Riker said...

Hi Nina,
I agree...
Teachers are mountains of information and organization - the ability to separate the details so they can be broken down and taken in by another body is priceless.
I value the talents of teachers even more than I always have (and believe me, I always have!)
I am learning constantly, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to share what I know, and learn what I don't.
Thanks for visiting, I hope you come back soon.