Teaching Philosophy

Michael Lee

Although the trend is now changing, their are some teachers who prefer to look at the students as a “Blank Canvas”, where the instructor brings the materials to shape the paintings end point. My teaching would be compared more to a creek joining a river, I understand that student already has perceived notions on what art, dance, technique is and try to join and let some of my knowledge, the creek, flow with them for a while. In that process I wish to awaken the body and mind to new perceptions, ideas and ways of moving through and in the body. The students have past experiences, styles and preferences that I wish not to mold after myself but instead wish to pull those out for the students to use later in discovering what they can do with their own minds and bodies.

Using structured improv, contact improv, assignments, discussions, and videos I try to facilitate a way for the students to develop personal viewpoints with traditional aesthetics. To inspire and stimulate students, to allow them to question everything in order to reveal a new understanding. I am willing as an instructor to help facilitate a way for the students to answer their own questions and help them and or mentor them on their path without shaping them into a mold. I use different methods of giving the students the information, verbal, visual and kinesthetic methods so that different learners can not just pick up the information but allow the students to see different ways of learning. I allow proper time for corrections or suggestions in class and also allow time for the students to visit me during office hours to discuss anything that has to deal with the class.  

By the end of my class I wish the students to discover one way to tap into their aesthetic and human voices. Discuss current work and topics that have to relate to dance and choreography like values, opinions and privileges. To discover an awareness of their own breath, alignment, body and minds and then using that awareness to connect the inner sensation with the rest of the body and the mind. To use their own personal history and the history they know of the world to inform the way they think, learn and create. Allowing them to work on connecting the sensation of the body performing and presence with the audience. 

In my class we will explore using authentic movement prompts, “felt” material and group assignments to allow them to see other student’s “river’s” and to gain any knowledge that they can pick up. Using writing assignments lets the students think and write critically on the prompt given. I grade with guidelines but allow the individual process to influence the way I evaluate the students performance, skill, and process. I will help provide insight to students about internships, workshops, masterclasses and graduate school. With performance grades I look for not a perfect display of the material but instead the quality of the performance and the presence of the individual dancer.

As a new teacher in the field my main experience has been leading a rehearsal like class, a class where the combinations are a gateway to the end of the semester performance. I am constantly learning how to deal with students, respect them as adults and learn from them as much as I am giving them. My biggest ideal is to open their minds towards new possibilities, concepts, ideas and thought processes. I wish to get more experience so that I can be a teacher who has seen many classes and knows how to treat every class as an individual entity. Maintaining my own learning is important as well, attending masterclasses, workshops and taking classes is important for me to continue my learning. I am also concerned with collaboration so I will maintain my presence with the other arts and philosophy with classes, communities, readings and lectures.