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A Passion for Sharing

engagement sustainability Mar 19, 2024

As a dancer and educator, my journey is never just about teaching movement; it's always been about so much more. When teaching, I am also receiving energy from those around me and this is what sustains you in the career. When I was on stage the energy happened through smiles in the audience, the eyes you lock in on in the crowd when you are hitting an intense step, from the applause, and seeing your name in a playbill! In the classroom, it took a moment for me to find that reciprocal energy through seeing a shy student get on stage to perform a group dance, from seeing one of my special education dancers share about their creative process during a dance concert, from hearing other teachers in my school say they had no idea one of our shared students had such a talent inside of them. These moments fostered a sustainable passion for dance within myself and my community. Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to teach a master class at Atlanta's High Museum of Art through Dance Canvas. This experience impacted my perspective on how others outside of our dance bubble see us. This opportunity was inside of the museum, during its open hours, and guests could take or observe the class as they walked by. 

Teaching at the High Museum allowed me to connect with new audiences and introduce them to the transformative power of dance. It reminded me of the importance of community engagement in sustaining my passion for teaching. Being in a new space, surrounded by art and creativity, reignited my own creative spark and reaffirmed my commitment to the art form. As always, I get a few butterflies, just like I would if I were on stage. Would they like my choreography, will I give them what they need today, will they show up! HA! All the thoughts. But then I remember who I am and what I have to offer and if there is even one person, I will give my all and receive their great energy.

Here are a few strategies that have helped me sustain my passion for dance education, even during challenging times:

  • Embrace Reciprocal Energy: Cultivate a classroom environment where students feel empowered to share their creativity and talents. Encourage moments of vulnerability and expression, whether it's through solo performances (even across the floor), group collaborations, or sharing personal insights into their creative process. By fostering a sense of reciprocity and connection with your students, you'll sustain your passion for teaching and create a supportive community that fuels your love for dance.
  • Seek Novel Experiences: Step outside of your comfort zone and explore new teaching opportunities in unconventional settings, such as museums, community centers, or outdoor spaces. This was made possible by a partnership with the amazing Dance Canvas board that I just happen to be VP of! Embrace the challenge of teaching in unfamiliar environments and use it as an opportunity to spark your creativity, engage with diverse audiences, and expand your perspective on the impact of dance education. By seeking out new experiences and pushing your boundaries as a teacher, you'll infuse your practice with fresh energy and inspiration.
  • Find Your Outlet: Teaching dance is not just a job; it can be a source of personal fulfillment and joy. Find ways to integrate your love of dance into your daily life, whether it's through attending performances, practicing your own choreography, or simply dancing for the sheer fun of it. As mentioned before, my favorite places to dance are in the grocery store or my bathroom! 

By embracing new energy, experiences, and outlets, I've been able to sustain my passion for dance and continue inspiring the next generation of dancers and the teachers who I work with. Through teaching, I've discovered that sustainability as a dance educator is not just about preserving the art form; it's also about nurturing the flame inside of you that may still desire to dance.

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