BEST TIPS AND ADVICE: Malashock Dance Faculty

One of the most powerful feelings of success, for both dance teachers and a students, happens when a specific correction becomes an “ah ha!” moment. Dance instructors often hear the same fears and struggles articulated by dancers at various levels, and are constantly striving to find new ways to address common misconceptions and obstacles. Sometimes, these ideas are distilled into small prompts given verbally during or after a combination. Not all of these prompts “make sense” for everyone. Dancers use a variety of different approaches to solve problems, and dance teachers come equip with various ways to address them. We asked Malashock Dance faculty members to describe some moments of inspiration that have changed the way they teach and the way they approach movement in modern dance classes. We hope these will give you some insight and inspiration, too!

“I often feel somewhat shaky in my ankles which makes connecting into the floor quite difficult, so when I think of breathing or softening into my ankles while moving, it grounds me and stabilizes my movement.”

It’s Time for the Left Side
“I love to tell students at almost any level that the left side of a phrase is exactly the same as the right, it just starts on the other foot. Sometimes simplifying takes out the fear and allows the body to express its intelligence.”

I’m Afraid to Ask for Help
“The most important lesson I have learned about teaching is the philosophy of ‘ensemble over hierarchy’. Each individual may be in a different place on their creative path, yet we all have the privilege of learning from one another. Despite differences in physical ability and understanding, advanced dancers can learn from the passion of beginners and newcomers can learn from the experience of more mature movers. Developing a notion of humility in the classroom facilitates the best possible learning environment for all involved.”

Moving Efficiently
“Kathryn Irey taught me the importance of promoting the idea of finding “neutral” so as not to expend unnecessary energy. Rather, students learn to utilize precise body initiations in order to liberate the body and provide for longevity and injury prevention. She also taught me that pointing your toes means opening your ankle joint, not crunching your toes.”

We Are Here to Dance
“I often see dancers working so hard to perfect technique that they forget that they are training to dance. Sometimes dancers focus so hard on how they are doing each step that they never examine why they are doing what they are doing. I found that by calling attention to the space in the room that they are sharing, making eye contact with the other dancers in the room, and by shifting between internal and external focus, students begin to relax. They should leave class feeling that they have done more than a series of exercises…they should feel that they have contributed a piece of themselves while dancing.”