Pauline E. Drake Scholar | Spelman College
Lifetime Experience Scholar & Dance Fellowship Recipient | The University Of The Arts
Picture a classroom filled with dance students, intimately engaged within their own space, time, or phrase, experiencing their own unique breakthrough as an artistic vessel. Insert the voice and pedagogy of passion, determination, skill, research, encouragement and development of a work ethic from an instructor whose primary goal is to challenge students to achieve mastery of their skill and trust in their talent. This is my true belief on the instruction and cultivation of a dance practitioner who is coming into their agency, artistic voice, creative and technical discernment as an emerging prolific dance artist.
My philosophical methodology as an educator is to build an assertive mental strength through rich historical research of Black dance within a decolonized context, to ensure students have an empowered approach as to why they were chosen to be dance makers. This in conjunction with nurturing their dance practice utilizing the idioms of Jazz dance technique, Hip Hop, and stylistic deviations through Jazz Funk. My methodology begins with a sweat-inducing center floor warm up focused on Dunham isolations, stretching, alignment and balance of the body, fused with strength building exercises from the Horton Technique. We then move to progressions across the floor where the student is challenged to focus on the transfer of their weight to quick paced phrasing emphasizing musicality, accents, and change of direction. The experience concludes with challenging material working through the abstract or classical form, that incorporates the technical development from the warm up, and the stimulating phrasing from across the floor progressions, to the creation of center floor choreography. While inside the execution of the choreographic work, students are challenged to manifest their performance skills as well as how to emotionally connect to those that will audience their work.
The intention, focused, while building the student’s technical skill is also layered with the language and theory of a real world commercial dance atmosphere. Students will gain an understanding of the structure and protocol for audition etiquette, expectations and comprehension of casting breakdowns, how to slate, creation of their resume and reel in digital format, and most importantly how to brand themselves for a reputable career as an educated artist. As makers, students will be guided through the creation of pitch decks, how to work with technology through animation, as well as how to conceptualize a creative vision to storyboard and create shot list as future creative directors.
The culmination of my instructed classes will be met with the expectation of the student to end their academic year with their very own artistic project, performance evaluation, and class facilitation to further their matriculation. Projects will include development of their tangible personal assets as a creator to equip them with the necessary tools to enter the competitive world of concert or commercial dance, as well as creative directors and doers. To assess the student’s skill development of their jazz technique as well as comprehension of the expectations for a viable career as a dance practitioner, students will be evaluated for measurables on their retention, choreographic creation, performance, and research of dance within a historical context as well as it’s evolution through pop culture. Group and individual theory plus applied skill based projects will be assigned to test the student’s approach to collaborative efforts, etiquette, protocol, and creation of their very own artistic project.
Success of my methodology can be observed through the many scholars I’ve mentored, trained, & artistically developed from ages 5 to adult. The success of my theory and methodology is reflected in the placement of my students on national and international tours of major artists, prominent commercials, SAG-AFTRA credits, scholarly efforts, and acceptance to attend intensive study in some of the world's most renowned fine arts in dance institutions.
I continue to improve myself as a teacher with numerous research, development, active in the field career opportunities, and intensive dance class participation to enhance my personal methods in making as well as my students overall experience. Teaching truly is my passion and service to the future pioneers of the world of dance.