© 2019 by Alethea Alexander

T E A C H I N G

contemporary modern technique + ballet + Pilates  

improvisation + modern partnering + Dance Church® + anatomy

western concert dance history + pedagogy + Objectx Workshop

Teaching Philosophy

                                               

 

 

I teach dance as a developing conversation between a thinking being and an evolving practice. I do everything within my power to encourage the development of independently thinking artists in the studio and in the classroom. I believe that independent and explorative thought feeds a deeper relationship between student and material, serving richer artistic possibilities. Ultimately, I believe thinking artists are also healthier human beings with the capacity to support a healthy community and contribute to positive global cultural growth.

 

In the classroom, I engage with dance as science, introspection, social bravery, research, revolution and art, and I embrace effort and rigor as sustaining investments. I believe that an engineer has just as much to gain from studying dance as an informatics researcher might, and both have just as much to gain from the discipline as a lifelong performer. Everyone in the room is exposed to risk, learning from failure, visibility and voice, internal dialogue, dialogue with others, anatomy, physics, vulnerability, joy and creativity.

 

I help students develop an active internal dialogue by encouraging them to listen to their bodies and intellects, ask questions and synthesize input. This is the practice of any researcher, creative, social or scientific. I use the tools of imagery and metaphor to make familiar the unfamiliar, and I pose directed questions to help students embark on their own discoveries. In these discoveries, I encourage honest assessment of bones, muscles, histories, identities and desires. This kind of post-modern, subjective investigation facilitates a practice in which neither the body nor the mind are ever “wrong.” 

 

In technique class, I encourage subjective physical honesty as a method for sustaining a long and healthy relationship to movement. I actively share my knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology with students, and we approach dance as a technique driven by efficiency and functionality. When students have the tools to understand their subjective sets of pullies and levers, they can manipulate applied forces to their best advantage and fill or affect space with ease.

 

I see it as my responsibility to build space in the studio and in seminars and lectures, inviting new voices and bodies to fill it with all the bravery and curiosity they have access to in the moment. Over time, I see their bravery grow.

 

The kind of bravery that is developed in a dance, anatomy, history or composition class is inseparable from bravery in a larger community and from bravery in learning and change. In dance, you often have to execute an idea—fully, physically and visibly—before you know if it is “right.” This kind of boldness requires a willingness to learn from failure. I facilitate a positive relationship with failure by encouraging applause, conversation and shared names and laughter. I encourage expression of identity, sensation, emotion, question, idea and quality. As a group, we practice seeing and understanding the expressions of others, and we draw connections between others and ourselves. 

 

Finally, I believe in joy. Some days, and for some people, joy is a radical act.