Dancers Before Choreography
As a dance form that is often assumed to demand a seemingly unattainable standard of perfection, ballet can be challenging to teach. With its exclusionary and problematic history, its teaching can be difficult to justify. While these two realities lead some teachers to teach as they were taught without questioning their pedagogical philosophies or the fundamental purpose of teaching ballet, I have viewed these as queries to instigate continuous self-reflection as a ballet educator. I believe ballet can be relevant in today’s social and political climate and can be used as a means for social change, however, I believe that change is wholly contingent on how ballet is taught in the classroom.
I believe in teaching ballet for the individual. Ballet can and should be personal. As many different bodies as there are in the world, that is how many different variations of ballet there can be. While many consider ballet to be a fixed form dictated by the authors of technical manuals and treatises, I believe ballet is not static, but rather endlessly evolving. I teach ballet from inner sensations rather than externally resolute architecture. I do not believe in imparting shapes for dancers to mold their bodies to fit into, but instead to find how the actions of each step feel in their bodies and resonate with their artistic sensibilities.
In the classroom, I aim to unsettle the traditional ballet class structure by creating a laboratory environment where trial and error are valued, where there is no wrong answer but rather informative experiences toward more efficient solutions. I encourage discussion in my class, allowing for deeper inquiry and for dancers to learn from each other's experiences. I strive to uphold transparency, the diversifying of instruction, and open communication in the classroom.
I aim to humanize the complexities of ballet and aspire to increase clarity and embodiment through safe physical practices and honoring individual dancers as whole people. I hope to use ballet to empower, foster inclusivity, celebrate diversity, and promote social change. I continuously investigate how this culture is cultivated in the ballet classroom. I believe that anyone can do ballet, and that it can be personally and socially transformative.