Teaching Portfolio

Teaching a Combination (audition)
Choreography by: Curtis Stedge
One on One - Bartenieff Fundamentals Session
Basic 6: The Thigh Lift and Forward Pelvic Shift
Higher Education Course Descriptions

Introduction to Dance

This course introduces students to the broad concept of dance by engaging its multiple purposes through practice-based experience, and an examination of its social and historical complexities. Emphasis will be placed on dance as a form of creative expression; a social, religious, and cultural practice; and its relationship to other artistic as well as non-artistic disciplines.

Throughout this course we will explore elements of a wide variety of dance styles and practices through movement explorations, dance making, readings, discussions, videos, written responses, collaborative projects, and attendance at live dance events. By examining dance in both global and local contexts we will move towards a fuller appreciation and understanding of the influence of dance in our everyday lives as well as an embodied reflection and expression of the world in which we live.

Fundamentals of Modern Dance

This course offers a solid foundation for the student interested in exploring a fuller range of human movement potential. Through the use of the Laban Bartenieff Movement System we will engage the various categories of movement (Body, Effort, Space, Shape) to more fully realize our individual and collective movement choices and affinities. Generally, classes will begin with a centering meditation, progressing to Bartenieff floorwork, transition up to standing for a structured improvisation, before engaging in center work, an across the floor phrase that ties together the concepts learned throughout class, and concludes with an acknowledgement of community and connectivity.

Fundamentals of Ballet

This class is an introduction to ballet technique intended for students with little or no previous training. Working individually as well as in groups, the course will discuss ballet terminology, aesthetics, and values with the goal of demonstrating an understanding of those topics in class performance and in application to a creative project. This class is a container, a form in which the student will gain a greater understanding and awareness of their body through the practice of ballet.

Arts Management and Entrepreneurship

An introduction to the inquiry-based discipline of Arts Management, this course serves both as a preparation for further study in Arts Management at the graduate level and as an explorative guide for artists in attending to the various legal, political, and economic challenges they will inevitably face in creating/producing and presenting art.

Additional Courses
That I am Able to Teach

Somatic Practices

  • Bartenieff Fundamentals

Dance Technique

  • Modern / Contemporary Dance (all levels)

  • Butoh (non-western somatic practice/dance technique)

  • Improvisation

Movement (non-dance)

  • Taekwondo

Comp/Choreography​

  • The Creative Process

  • Dance Making/Composition

Dance History/Culture

  • Dance in a Global Context

  • Dance History

Management Classes

  • Dance Management

Theory & Notation

  • Laban Movement Analysis

Course Evaluations from Students
  • [He] did an excellent job making the class engaging for students with a range of backgrounds, goals, and levels of experience. Despite my utter lack of a dance background I never felt neglected or bewildered. He managed to push all of us to effectively improve ourselves in some small yet meaningful way.

  • Extremely talented instructor, the best dance class I have taken at UMD.

  • Definitely recommend.

  • I absolutely LOVE this class. [He] is an awesome teacher.

  • It was a very fun, stress-free class that did help me become more aware of my body. It also helped me learn and appreciate the basics of what fuels the modern dance style in terms of: movement quality, one's internal feeling or characterization, and one's interaction with space and energy. I used to think modern dance dance was really weird and extremely bizarre at times, but now I kind of like it.

  • The course did a lot of background on dance and it was apparent that the professor was passionate about his coursework.

  • This course was enjoyable. I really liked our teacher, he was always considerate to students and seemed genuinely interested in our success.

Teaching Philosophy

As a dance educator, teaching with the rigor of inquiry-based, student-centered, collaborative learning, I recognize students as creators rather than consumers. Creators not only of artistic work, but also of the world around them, consciously shaping their reality in positive and innovative ways through the choices they make. My role in this is one of a guide, an elder, a shaman leading students on a journey of self-discovery, facilitating the realization of their full movement potential, and through this, their full potential as creators and human beings.

A passionate, and compassionate, vision driven artist, with an inherent need to create and share worlds both seen and unseen, I see myself as one of many architects attempting to positively affect the trajectory of our shared cultural evolution. My determination and passion to leave this world a better place than when I arrived in it can be seen in every decision that I make. The creation of art and support of artistic creation mixed with an inherently inquisitive, entrepreneurial spirit is how I intend to bring about this betterment.

However, the act of creation, the making of something new, is never a self-contained event. As matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it becomes clear that a creation is dualistic, in that it is a whole made up of parts. In the case of something intangible like dance that springs forth from the body-mind those parts are knowledge and experience. Knowledge in dance begins with lineage, which is extremely important not only contextually as a frame of reference of one’s own work, but also in the recognition that knowledge is built upon knowledge. To point out a well-worn adage, “in order to know where one is going, one must know from where one has come.”

In recognition of this, my pedagogic style is deeply informed by Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies (LBMS), primarily resulting from my work with Dr. Robin Collen, Richard Haisma, Karen Kohn Bradley, and through my certification in Laban Movement Analysis. LBMS brings an attention towards observation, analysis, and synthesis of data to my work, as well as a highly effective language, the usage of which spans across the many roles that I fill as educator, choreographer, and performer. The improvisational genius and dynamism of the Nikolais/Louis tradition, the sensitive and precise work of Irene Dowd in functional anatomy, the introspective somatic work of Irmgard Bartenieff and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, and the close mentorship of both Richard Haisma and Karen Kohn Bradley additionally inform my work.

My movement (technique) courses are framed by three guiding principles, that collectively work toward the goal of helping students achieve their full potential both in dance and in life: technical proficiency, performance, and community.

Technique coursework should provide a student with a foundation of technical proficiency in their ability to arrive at mastery in commanding the body. This proficiency should then be brought to life by conscious work in marrying life experience with technical skill. So often in dance, we view technique and the creative process as two separate things. However, I believe that one should work in more holistic terms. Therefore, technical ability should not be divorced from performance. Finally, the choices made through the use of this marriage must be informed by the fact that said marriage both exists within the relational context of a larger entity (community), and that these choices have an effect on that community, for better or for worse.

Generally, these classes progress from establishing a strong connection with self, a ground of awareness rooted in the affirmation of oneself, then moving towards a connecting with one or more other self-aware individuals, before concluding with group connectivity, a recognition of self as part of a larger community of diverse individuals.

Knowing that each student has their own path and their own destination, my instruction reflects this truth, in that I offer flexible structure that accommodates derivation when necessary and worthwhile.

My approach to coursework in improvisation and composition are rooted to the very essence of creation, through an intimate understanding of the creative process. Quite simply, the very act of creation suggests a choice. By making a choice we pay what in business theory is called an opportunity cost. That is the value of the foregone choice in favor of the preferred choice.   

The ubiquitous nature of creation has, to some degree, left us blind to the effect that these choices have on the world around us. This idea of an opportunity cost becomes useful as we begin to think about the larger context of the work we are producing. The opportunity foregone represents the path not taken, or the potential that will never be realized. The awareness of this brings with it sensitivity in favor of evaluating choice and being able to articulate why a choice was made.

However a balance must be struck between chaos and order, so that students feel comfortable taking risks, while embracing failure not as something to be feared or avoided but as something to learn from, in order to make more informed choices.

In all, I want students to leave my class with a wider lens through which to view the world, and an understanding not only of how they fit into the current structures of societal operating, but a fearlessness and awareness of making decisions that improve these structures or shape new ones.

To this end, I encourage students to embrace and nurture their creative potential, offering guidance and support while pushing them to expect more from themselves than they might otherwise.  

Statement of Diversity Contribution

Growing up as a gay white male, in a low-income family, living in the United States of America I have continuously been confronted with both my privilege, as a white male, and the exclusion that my difference as an openly gay man brings. This has provided me with a unique understanding of and interaction between both privilege and oppression. It has also made me a fierce champion for diversity and inclusion.

 

As an educator this has greatly influenced both my pedagogical approach and curricular development.  Knowing that each student possesses their own unique origin, path, and destination I offer flexible structure that is culturally relevant, accommodates diverse learning styles, and allows for derivation when necessary and/or worthwhile.

 

In my field (dance) where there is an extreme bias towards ballet, as the basis of dance education, I actively work against this construct viewing ballet instead as one of many cultural forms, applying equal value to both western and non-western forms. In my dance appreciation and dance history courses I choose to foreground movement knowledge systems of historically marginalized communities in order to promote a holistic global perspective on dance as well as to empower students that may not see themselves or their cultural identity in the predominately western forms that many institutions preference.

 

At KineoLab, a not-for-profit dance company here in Rochester, of which I am the founder, we hold a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our classes are highly inclusive as we offer scholarships to students from economically disadvantaged families and I currently work with a number of students with disabilities. One student in particular uses an FM system to facilitate communication. In working with her I have developed a heightened awareness of teaching students with a hearing impairment, understanding that this student needs consistent visual cues requiring me to be constantly aware of proxemics and where I place myself in the room.

 

In my current work as a Long-Term, Special Education, Substitute Teacher, within the Rochester City School District I have developed a deeply sensitive understanding of the unique requirements of teaching in an urban setting. I approach this work and my students from a trauma-informed perspective supported by my current studies in Dance/Movement Therapy, as I work towards certification in that field.

 

As an artist and an arts manager with a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, I serve as a member of the Rochester Arts and Cultural Working Group, seeking to address both funding inequality and a lack of diversity and inclusion in the Rochester arts community. Within this role I work collaboratively with other artists/arts managers to plan and advocate for necessary policy change at the municipal and county levels, as well as within our local foundation and corporate funding institutions. Additionally, we work to bring together and unify the various arts and cultural communities within the Greater Rochester Metropolitan area. 

 

I am committed to continuing to pursue efforts to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion at KineoLab and in all organizations and communities of which I am currently or find myself a part of. Above all I value holism and the interconnectedness of life throughout our world. Yet, as I recognize our need to see things in dualistic terms so that we may better understand the world around us, this subject/object duality, a mere tool, should not be what defines us. Rather, in experiencing that which we seemingly are not, we gain a better understanding of that which we are and what we share with those beyond our perceptions of self. This part/whole duality from a movement perspective forms the core of my belief system as an artist, and as an educator.

The Role of Dance in the University

 

Dance as a field of academic inquiry is relatively new. The first dance major in the United States was founded in 1926, at the University of Wisconsin, housed within the Department of Women’s Physical Education, under the leadership of Margaret H’Doubler. (Kraus, 118) For many years thereafter, until the 1970’s, most dance programs were affiliated with physical education. Following the enactment of Title IX (1972) and Equal Educational Opportunity (1974) legislation, dance as a field, embarked on a three-decade long migration to the performing arts, within academia. (Bonbright, 2)

 

The unfortunate result of housing dance under physical education for so long, and perhaps the reason for it, is the Western perpetuation of belief in a mind-body split. Though Descartes, the father of this belief, is unarguably one of the great intellectual contributors to the development of contemporary, Western civilization, this contribution laid the foundation for the destructive, Western, ideological dominance of the mind over the body. 

 

As a dance scholar, and research-practitioner I reject the dictum of Cartesian duality that has shaped much of Western society since the Enlightenment, in favor of a holistic perspective that unites mind and body. If nothing else, the most important idea that dance brings to the academic table is proof that the mind-body split is a fallacy, that there is truth in physical experience as much as in thought, and that these truths are in actuality one truth. In dance, knowledge is obtained though the perfectly concerted effort of theory and embodied practice.

 

Dance, which engages the entire body-mind, the platform through which we interface with the world and with other people, can serve us individually and collectively in our interactions with both. According to the American Anthropologist Joann Kealiihonomoku, dance is a microcosm of the larger culture to which it belongs. (Kealiihonomoku) If we accept this as true then dance becomes much more than either physical exercise or artistic expression. It serves a much broader purpose in human life, a purpose that many non-western societies continue to acknowledge. Dance provides us with a means to not only know ourselves better, but to know each other and our surroundings.

 

Within academia, dance should be viewed as both a distinct discipline, a home for critical inquiry and practice that holds just as much weight as STEM disciplines, and as an agent of connectivity, a bridge to transdisciplinary, collaborative research. 

 

In my own work, I have brought dance together with such varied fields as conflict resolution and peacebuilding, architecture and urban planning, theatre, the sociology of community and culture, arts management and business, law and justice, psychology, and physical and mental health. My current work with conflict resolution specialist José Pascal da Rocha bridges dance, movement analysis, and peacebuilding in search of a deeper understanding of the nonverbal aspects of conflict, and through this, a more effective process by which conflict can be prevented and/or resolved. Continuing research, that unites dance and theatre, utilizes Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies to develop character movement profiles, which allow dancers and actors to more fully realize and embody the characters they are tasked to portray. Past research that bridges organizational theory with dance, finds parallels between patterns of bodily organization and organizational structures of communication in corporations through the use of Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies.

 

By downplaying the role of dance in academia we negate the fact that we experience the world through our moving, interacting bodies. Only by acknowledging that embodied research is as valuable as intellectual research, will we fully realize the potential that dance holds for human advancement.

 

_____

 

Kraus, Richard and Sarah Chapman. History of the Dance in Art and Education.                  Prentice Hall New Jersey. 1981.

 

Bonbright, Jane. National Agenda for Dance Arts Education: The Evolution of Dance          as an Art Form Intersects with the Evolution of Federal Interest In, and Support of,          Arts Education. Presented at the Dancing in the Millennium Conference,                        Washington, DC, 2000.

 

Kealiinohomoku, Joann. "Dance culture as a microcosm of holistic culture," New                  dimensions in dance research: anthropology and dance -      The American Indian.        Tamara Comstock (editor), Research annual 6: 99-106. New York: CORD

© 2019 by Curtis Stedge.

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