As someone who speaks and writes American English, I find the need to translate the written and spoken "English" word when communicating with others in this course. Having written this sentence I hope not to offend anyone is it seems to be my mantra for this course of study.
Before entering this MA program I felt self assured that I was more than proficient in the English language. I watch plenty of BBC and have helped English instructors in other countries assist their students with understanding how to write papers in English. Unfortunately that was/is a very self centered reflection of my own abilities.
This became more apparent through the 5pm Skype call on 2 October 2016. What one thing may mean to me may not be what that same word, concept, or phrase might mean to another person. This difference of understanding and opinions can be attributed to how I identify myself. I am who I am based on my ethnic race, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political views, education, and comprehension of others.
So while I may have explicit understanding of concepts my views of true may not be those of others. The challenge in offering my perspective to others is that I do not wish to be perceived as high handed or off putting. Globally many peoples in countries are experiencing a backlash of civil rights and political alignments within governments nationally and internationally. Are these returns to thoughts of inequality a form of bullying or suppressed groups offering their opinions and thoughts through force and often violence?
This global perspective or look at varying perceptions of events can be used as an larger example of how we as instructors and educators look at the microscopic world of our dance studios/classrooms. As instructors our job description is to teach dance. Does this mean we only teach the mechanics of how to do movement, or do as discussed in my blog from last week on innovation and what is not a repetition of building the wheel, we as educate our students to understand the history of the dance form(s) we teach? History of each technique and how other techniques impact the progression or development of a specific technique does impact the technique we teach. Ballet was more than court dance and social dance but it is still part of those cultures. It was and is affected by world politics and the need for power (social as well as financial).
Modern dance (now sometimes referred to as contemporary dance-a misnomer I loathe) is also a form of dance based of folkloric, ethnic, and political issues and protests. This last statement is an over simplification an educator may use to pigeon hole the concept of modern dance to non dancers. Modern is current. Contemporary means your peers but may also mean current. So the multiple definitions given in encyclopedias (yes I am old enough I prefer a book not online editions) give people the ability to choose how the words contemporary and modern may be used. The choice of how to use each word as a descriptor or a noun is made by the person using that word. The audience/student does not know why the teacher/instructor/educator uses the modern vs. contemporary. The student must respond to the teacher based on the teacher's interpretation of the words modern or contemporary. A similar comparison may be made for ballet when discussing the differences between classical, neoclassical, or contemporary ballet or when comparing rhythm tap to Broadway tap. Do classical, neoclassical, and contemporary mean the same thing to ballet dancers that these words mean to art historians? Rhythm tap is part of Broadway tap, yet it is considered a different entity.
So again, how do we as teachers and educators allow our students to know the historical and technical foundation of dance techniques we teach without imposing our own viewpoints on our students?
This was a theme which ran rampant in the Sunday afternoon discussion about interviewing people for projects within this course. As students we choose the topics we wish to research and develop. The journey through that process includes being open to learning how the people we choose to interview think and reflect or not on the topics we choose to question and discuss. Again, we must be open to new ideas and concepts. Is this not the bane of my dislike for improvisation? Yes. But it is a principle basic to improvisation even in the form of free writing and journaling. So if we employ this practice in our practices of dance and reflection then we must fight our urges to force movement/answers into a dance/research project with corrupted data.
This will be an exercise in self restraint for me during journey of exploration, reflection, and understanding not only my awareness and experience of the world through my life in dance but also hopefully through comprehension and understanding the world of dance as seen and lived by others.