T E A C H I N G P H I L O S O P H Y
My teaching style and philosophy are firmly rooted in traditional methods of dance
pedagogy that incorporates a rigorous disciplined approach to learning basic
rudimentary dance skills and terminology. The focus and thrust of my class is to
prepare a foundation that will assist dancers in becoming proficient and well-
rounded artists. I believe that combining organic qualitative elements of classical,
contemporary and somatic idioms builds strength, flexibility and a highly refined
sense of musicality, as well as, aesthetic and spatial awareness. These skills are
key to advancing technically through the form as well as deepening a students
understanding of contemporary movement in the Horton vernacular.
My class can best be described as a Horton based contemporary/modern class.
The foundation of the class is rooted in Horton methodologies and is influenced
by certain elements of Graham technique. The use of breath and release properties
from other contemporary pedagogues, as well as, basic balletic / classical principles
is also incorporated. My objective is to get students to develop and maintain a
personal understanding of how their body works. I also want students to discover
within the constructs of a Horton based technique, how to facilitate efficient
learning as individuals. I would like young dancers to intelligently analyzes my
approach to movement and find the best possible way to make that information
mentally and physically attainable.
Moreover, aspects of Yoga, Floor Barre a Terre and Pilates method supplement instruction. This fusion of traditional techniques and alternative forms create an organic style of movement that is very accessible physically and emotionally to the disciplined student. Through the process of critical thinking as it pertains to awareness of the mind-body connection is paramount. I would like students to acquire the physical dexterity to process mine along with any instructors’ style of teaching. In addition, I would like students to integrate aspects of my philosophy they find valid to their personal practices to aid and enhance their own ideas about movement and dance expression that will be a life long evolving experimentation with movement.
My class also encompasses relaxing, therapeutic and cardiovascular properties that aid in developing a strong, versatile, cross-trained dancer, who can adapt to any instructors style while integrating and maximizing their own physical needs and requirements. I have been experimenting with the traditional Horton class and also an across the floor version of my class called ACoHo (Andre’s Contemporary Horton). ACoHo takes the basic Horton class and moves it from traditional center format and begins with traveling the progressions across the floor at the very beginning of class.
This new approach puts into motion and actuates the technique from a non-stationary mode. I begin with traveling basic exercise such as: roll downs, laterals, flatbacks, plies, and tendus to more complex exercises. I merge Horton Fortifications and Preludes with slight augmentations. I do jumps in center or across the floor sometimes taking movement from exercises worked on from that days lesson plan objectives. Sometimes I use movement from a slightly related or totally different physical perspective to see how they adapt and incorporate the form.
Throughout my years of teaching, I have found it essential to be direct and honest with students. I value the opinions of my students as burgeoning fellow artists and treat each dancer as an individual, each at a different place on their artistic and educational journeys. The physical self-awareness that will be attained supports longevity in the art form. Establishing and maintaining mutual respect is vital to the creative process. The use of descriptive imagery, positive reinforcement coupled with insightful corrections that challenge physically and intellectually is essential.
Creating a brave space to take artistic risks through a very disciplined approach to the study of dance is crucial for a dancers development. My sole objective is to elicit the best possible results from all of my students. What ignites my passions for dance most is teaching students with varying levels of technical abilities and performance. experience, who are porous, receptive and embrace being in the moment, taking it to the edge. Sampling and testing movements to the fullest capacity will add depth and variety, plus it’s really fun to work in class from that place!
After years of teaching and saying similar things in different ways in a variety of settings, it is much more fulfilling and artistically relevant when I can go beyond the perfunctory: up-down-left-right of classroom instruction while expanding the boundaries of Horton technique. To go beyond the basic rudimentary functions of movement when teaching students is icing on the cake for me. I can click into another place when that happens... I like to teach from that place! I am interested in dancers exploring their humanity, identity, persona, and technical ability along with appropriate theatricality through the context of the movement I give them. I want them to experiment with not only the physicality of movement i.e. shape, form etc... but I also want them to be expressive dynamic movers who pose questions for themselves that involve critical thinking in ways they have not yet explored.How does what I feel like at this moment inform this step? What act of my own humanity can I add to the room by my presence and my moving through space in this agreed upon experience is one of many questions I want students to contemplate through movement? All intellectual and physical information should be considered and has validity. Remarkable results can be achieved through diligent, comprehensive training that encompasses knowledge of injury prevention and sound nutritional advice. In addition, the uses of therapeutic holistic alternatives that support and care for a dancers body and spirit will dramatically enhance ones craft. As a result my enthusiasm for dance and teaching remains a vibrant characteristic of my life and artistry!
Why "technique" class (Ballet or Contemporary)? "Technique” and contemporary technique class, for me, is not an ends to a means... Technique class/training is a/the foundation for learning anatomical proficiencies, strength building, physical and mental dexterity, along with developing organic holistic sensibilities that fortify the body as a student develops as a performing/artist.
Technique is a key/gateway to acquiring proper alignment, development of muscles, the use of breath, to help gain stamina and refinement of the body i. e. ones “instrument”. Technical class/training should be rigorous, therapeutic and equally restorative. It is a launching pad and a springboard to a deeper more profound scientific understanding of the body, it’s abilities, limitations and infinite possibilities that makes/takes substantial forays into a wide spectrum of dance idioms beyond Euro-centric hetro-normative dance techniques.
Technique supports and adds to knowledge and excellence in multiple forms and hopefully moves a dancer closer to mastery of various dance styles/techniques. “Technique” is a means by which and through a disciplined comprehensive study and excavation of “forms” aid to/can be proponents of/to real freedom for/of the body and a sharpening of the mind through rigorous practice that can lead to truer diverse creative and eclectic artistic discoveries, physical expression, liberation and eventual employment in diverse areas and styles of dance.
Technique is a fluid physical currency that is priceless. With it, personal artistic creative freedom and fulfillment that expands ones range as a performing artist can be achieved. "Technique builds, sharpens, expands and exalts the body and an individual dancer through a highly nuanced manipulation and command of CRAFT!!! Technique will help sustain longevity and passion in ones career and also a life time in dance! THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS TO REAL DANCE/ART AND ARTISTRY!!!