Sunday, January 21, 2018

finding objectivity

During the break I have watched many YouTube videos, films, classes, and live performances. Some of these have been dance and many have not. I have had to challenge myself to think before I speak and hope I can accurately understand from where each performer comes so that I may appreciate what has been brought to the performance.

In December we chatted about tradition and technique style/genre. Interestingly I have witnessed many groups attempting to stretch beyond their typical repertoire and exploring varied genres. Sometimes this has worked for those groups and at times the attempts were difficult to view. My perspective is that I think a group challenging itself to expand its repertoire should be aware of any cultural traditions as well as technical expectations that may be attached to performance styles new to a group of dancers, actors, or singers. Enthusiasm and hard work can help some things but do not compensate for what may be seen or heard as traditionally incorrect.

Do we as a society allow preconceived notions to sully our expectations? Does media hurt or enhance expectations? Are our opinions based on the same experiences as those we observe or hear?

How must we as dance teachers, instructors, and educators adapt to help our students move fluidly through many exercises both technically and emotionally? To convey absolutes is not necessarily right but when are interpretations not open to interpretation? Dance and life are not just mechanical but also emotional and must have breath to and feeling to be more than just steps on a journey. Not every person is at the same place on his or her journey at the same time. Finding objectivity to be patient and appreciate each person's journey is a challenge and a joy.


  1. Hi, great reading your blog. I agree with you that appreciating each person's journey is challenging and joyful at the same time. But I also think, that taking into account and understanding (or aiming to understand), where your learners are on their journey and accompany them from that point on, you can enable your students to take ownership of their learning and make it a much more satisfying experience (for both teacher and learner). By setting personal goals in relationship to where they are on their journey (and where they want to go), rather than focusing on an "ultimate" goal or outcome. I find it challenging at times, to work around students preconceptions or expectations, regarding this absolutes. For example (I teach ballet for pre vocational contemporary dancers) to see how some students have a very clear picture in their mind, or an absolute picture or shape, that represents ballet for them, but which sometimes inhibits them from progressing, as I feel they are trying to squeeze themselves into a preconstructed shape, rather than finding their own way within the balletic form. I often ask myself, if as teachers, we are supposed or allowed to try and change that picture or frame of reference that students have, or not? And if yes, how?

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  3. As teachers we are allowed to encourage students to be true to themselves. If the students are fortunate enough to grow beyond stereotypes and societal expectations then as instructors we encourage that growth. This may not happen for all students and we accept each student for who they are and hope they are able to accept us for who we are and what we bring to the classroom and life. Not every students will be in a top tier ballet company or in a globally recognized modern dance company. Not every student will dance on stage on Broadway or in the West End, or be a backup dancer for a rock star.