Testimonials from Yelp for Classes at Shoebox Studio:
“I was thrilled to have a chance to take part in Erica’s class for the first hour. She’s an incredibly strong and focused instructor, and two days after the fact my muscles are still sore from the intensity of those stretches & contractions. It’s been a long time since I was involved in a dance class that worked my muscles so completely, and I loved it. I hope that there is another night when Erica might be teaching this class in the future […] She’s a phenomenal instructor!”
“Erica did a great job of breaking down the exercises so we could understand them and understand the mechanics of our body in them. She knew that I had some background in ballet so she didn’t break down the ballet terms, but she did explain them to the other girl. And since it was just two of us, she could really work with each of us closely and check in on how we were doing with the exercises.”
“She took her time to walk me through the basics of modern, even though the class was actually for dancers and not beginners. I really admire her patience. Needless to say, I’m going to be going here all the time.”
As a dance educator I have many goals for my classes and for my students. One of the largest and most encompassing is that my students become more dance literate. When I say dance literacy I mean that students have a basic understanding of how their own body moves, are able to follow verbal and visual dance instruction, have an understanding of dance within larger contexts, and have an ability to respond to, analyze, and articulate themselves in regards to their dance experiences. It requires a basic understanding of the physical, visual, kinesthetic, and verbal vocabulary within the culture of dance that one is participating in as well as exposure to concepts and contextualization and practice talking about the art form. Beyond the goal of dance literacy, I want for my students to enjoy dance learning, to enjoy trying new things and challenging themselves, and to develop an understanding of their own autonomy as dance artists.
My methodology for realizing these large goals is intentionally diverse to not only accommodate, but encourage multi-modal learning and expression. I fully believe in stating my own perspective and sometimes bias as a teacher, thereby positioning my expertise as one possible viewpoint within a range of equally valid perspectives. I aim and set the bar high; I believe in setting up an expectation of success and self-motivated inquiry, and I help the students rise to those challenges by keeping feedback neutral or positive, letting the students know they are seen, and allowing the students time and space to ask questions, problem solve, and deal with disequilibrium. I want students to feel that dance learning is alive and active; that they are encouraged and have time to re-visit ideas, allowing them to discover and deepen rather than “master” concepts. It is also important to me to elicit questions and strategies from the students for them to reflect upon and answer for themselves. Reflection is important for the students to do individually and in groups as well as for myself as the teacher after each class, unit, and semester.
My technique classes often utilize codified modern dance techniques but through a lens of critical pedagogy or constructivism. I use the important or essential skills in a particular technique to provide reference points for students to think critically about and tackle physically to supplement their toolbox. Teaching and learning a highly specific codified form in a constructivist manner allows what could be prohibitive or exclusionary vocabulary to be opened up, examined, mined for value, and used as a jumping off point for deeper inquiry and innovation. In analyzing a technique, students get to form their own opinions about their training, learn deeply about their body, and use technique class as a method of enabling themselves to do more and with greater clarity.
As a rhythmic dance learner and having received much musical training, I feel that I can offer something extra to my technique classes by directly addressing musicality. Dance’s relationship to music is vast and comes in many forms, and I want to give my students additional tools to consciously navigate their use of music in their dancing and choreography. My investigation of more fully integrating exploration of musicality into techniques classes has just begun, but I believe it is important for exposing the inherent rhythm and phrasing created by dancers and choreographers.
My classes are generally composed of the following elements. They may be rearranged, repeated, added to, or left out as needed, but their frequent importance in my classes creates a useful structure for me to organize and scaffold class or lesson goals:
Warmup: the dancers need to get their blood moving, their heart rates up, and their joints lubricated so that they are ready to work without hurting themselves.
Skill Practice: dancers learn and refine skills that give them greater strength, flexibility, versatility, body-mind connection, and a deeper understanding of their bodies.
Personalization: dancers learn to actively make decisions about the way they think about and execute movement. They practice autonomy by learning how and when to teach themselves and make personal choices, and by practicing this, they gain confidence in themselves as thinking dance artists.
Reflection: dancers reflect on how things felt and looked, what things worked and what didn’t, what could be re-associated to inform something else. The practice of reflection could be long or short, and it helps dancers self-correct, integrate their skills as personal tools, and become more empowered learners.
Perform: as a performing art, the skills practiced in the classroom need to find a way to translate into performance. Performing in class starts this transition as well as giving students a venue to bring joy and a whole sense of self into movement.
Please contact me to see samples of lesson plans and curriculum.