November 28, 2014
Now that I have a little distance on the NDEO conference and have finally come down from the post conference high of the men’s performance and al of the workshops that I attended. I thought it might be fruitful to reflect on some of the issue that came up during the conference and in the DEL Foundations course that I am currently taking at the 92nd Street Y that is being conducted by Jody Arnhold and Catherine Gallant.
This conference more than any other that I have attended brought up a number of issues that go to the heart of dance and its importance in both performance, collaboration, and education. What is dance in education? Does it belong there? Does institutionalizing dance in academia take away from its essential and very primal power as a communicative art form? Is performing one thing and teaching something else altogether? What is collaboration in the dance classroom and beyond? Where does the performer’s heart and the teacher’s heart intersect?
Being given an assignment in the DEL course to describe “my teacher’s heart” was more challenging than I had anticipated. Having started dancing in college and earning a degree in Speech and Theater with a dance concentration and a teaching certification, I never considered that my art form was separate from my teaching practice. They developed simultaneously and were always intimately connected. So my “teacher’s heart” and my “performer’s heart” are very closely linked in a symbiotic relationship. I have always performed and I have always taught about what I was performing.
Without studying any formal pedagogical method, my teaching practice seemed to evolve naturally around a number of progressive ideals and practices. Educational theories that I knew nothing about seemed to be at the very heart of my teaching. When I finally read John Dewey, Howard Gardner, bell hooks, Ira Shor, Jerome Bruner, Alfie Kohn, Mabel Todd, and many more, I began to see how my practice already reflected their philosophies and practices. Without prior knowledge of their theories I was already on the path of progressive educational thinking.
It is fascinating that in following my true nature and the nature of the art forms that I work within, my practice intuitively developed on a very progressive pedagogical trajectory. This is truly a credit to the dance and theater instructors that I had throughout my life and particularly my very first classroom dance teacher, Linda Roberts. Even though my formal training started with Linda it certainly didn’t stop there as I went on to study with many of the great modern dance icons as well as accomplished acting and singing teachers, whose philosophies on performing and teaching matched my own nature, desires, and aesthetics.
On that note I invite everyone to check out my facebook page and take up the challenge to honor a transformative dance teacher in your life by posting your appreciation on your own social media as well as making a donation to NDEO. Give back to all of those teachers that gave so much to you by supporting the organization that continues to promote and support dance educators throughout the United States and beyond. Follow the links on my facebook page or in this posting to show your appreciation today. Together we can make Dance Education go viral on December 2 by doing what we do best, “get involved”. I did my part it’s your turn now!!
I am making a donation in honor of my first dance teacher, Linda Roberts, who was there when I accidentally fell into dance at the age of 18 as a computer error in my college schedule. I have had many fabulous dance teachers over the years, including some of the great modern icons form Nikolais to Hawkins but Linda was there and witness to when I first fell in love with dance, an affair that has lasted over 40 years. Thank you Linda for starting me on this wondrous journey. I challenge all you dancers, dance teachers, and colleagues at NDEO, NYSDEA, NYCDOE ,and at BAX, to make a donation in honor of a dance teacher who was transformative in your life whether you are still dancing or not.
The challenge has been thrown down are you "Human or Dancer" enough to meet me halfway. No Donation is too small. Thank a dance teacher and donate today!!! Take the #ThankADanceTeacher Challenge. Let the Thanksgiving begin! www.ndeo.org/givingtuesday #ndeothanks #givingtuesday
Go here to see my posting online: https://www.facebook.com/andrew.jannetti.9