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Teaching at TNUA/ Fulbright Project #2

THOUGHTS ON TEACHING DANCE     

by H. Sabas                              

Being a teacher is a privilege and a golden opportunity. Sharing the ultimate experience of dance through teaching technique classes and creating choreography motivates me. I find satisfaction in the knowledge that I am given the unique chance of instilling in students responsibility and discipline. I would like to help the dance student develop a sense of belief in oneself. To encourage a critical, inquiring and analytical mind through the interaction process in the classroom is one of my goals. The challenge of dance promotes confidence in students to face tasks unrelated to it.  My desire is to take part in a student’s search for purpose and achievement of goals. Ultimately, dance promotes creative, artistic expression and most importantly, a sense of individuality.

Whether it is ballet or contemporary, dance is an art form that is challenging to master. The classes teach tenacity and courage. Dance can either be a medium for the aspiring dancer whose goal is a professional career or a pastime for people who are looking for a fun outlet for individual expression and joy. Ballet or contemporary methods can be tools for any student of dance who desires to develop a solid base technique that prepares her or him for other dance forms. For that student, dance creates a sense of form, movement, rhythm, body awareness and poise while also developing agility, ballon and speed. Most importantly, it forges any dancer’s ability to analyze and act decisively.

My values include the dancer’s safety in mind and thus, it is a belief of mine that as a dance educator, I have the responsibility of being proactive in personal professional development. Learning is a continuous process for me; I like to stay informed on current dance and mind-body conditioning trends, which could be applied to my methodology. I also involve an anatomical and safe approach to teaching while paying close attention to the unique needs of a student. For example, in a university dance program, each incoming student has a unique anatomical composition and may have a different combination of dance backgrounds.  Effective teachers consciously work with each student.  Every dance educator, on a meticulous basis, must make an effort to maximize that individual’s potential and progress within reason and intelligent assessment.  However, acknowledgment and practice of proven traditional dance techniques that have been successfully passed on through history and generated positive results must be maintained. It is my belief that in any teaching scenario, nurturing a student in a positive and smart atmosphere has its long-term benefits for a happier life not only in dance, but in the real world as well.

Dance is one of the universal languages, which bridges the gap between cultures. In an institution where diversity is highly encouraged, dance stimulates a rich exchange of ideas and human interaction. That valuable exchange generates a social conscience within the student, as well as general well-being and the awareness of healthy living, in both physical activity and leisure.

Last but not least, I would like to pass on to my students the joy of dancing. Dance is a valuable source of self-expression with which a student’s voice can be heard through movement interpretation. Dance as a medium develops character, self-confidence and individualism.  Finding one’s voice is the ultimate fulfillment of an artist’s dream.

Photo collage(TNUA/Fulbright Project #2; other photos- “Green” by Maria Barnett, courtesy of CPYB; “Green” by Geri Francisco, courtesy of BM; “Synchronicity” by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of BAE).