Classes Currently Offered

 

Erin is currently a Lecturer at the California State University, Long Beach.

 

Dance 110: Viewing Dance

California State University, Long Beach

This is a semester long General Education course introducing global perspectives of dance around the world through viewing live dance, viewing filmed dance, taking dance labs, and attending lectures in dance history, theory, analysis, and criticism.

Teaching

 

Through dance we gain insight into the mystery of the body, the human psyche, social movement and communal kinesthesia. We move even more than we speak, yet we often forget the importance of simple movement. My classes are formatted to remember the importance of our everyday movement; I offer a space to learn about kinesthetic habits, rethink embodied biases, and expand community spatiality. In my classes we move communally whilst asking investigative questions such as “how we move through life and why?"

As a teacher, I begin educating through an anatomical and physiological lens. When discussing the body, I always find it essential to talk about the basic building blocks, making sure to take time to break down how the small differences in our skeletal and muscular alignment can lead to vast differences in movement potential. Once students have a basic understanding of how the body moves, in embodied classes I use contemporary dance techniques, such as experiential anatomy, Laban/Bartenieff, Limon, Release, Klein and Feldenkrais to train skeletal alignment and motor control. This allows students the time to understand their own individual bodies and gather the skills necessary to make informed choices. By starting my classes with a focus on how and why their body moves the way it does, students gain the ability to understand how to move in a sustainable, maximal, and informed manner. This understanding can ultimately lead to breaking down the self-conscious judgements individuals feel towards their bodies and allows students to embrace their bodies as powerful, distinctive, worthy, and uniquely able.

My courses are challenging. I use difficult movement combinations, movement skills, and challenging tempos to help students better understand their psyche and their relationship with the world. One of the ways I do this is through the inclusion of challenging modalities such as inversions. Particularly with students who are new to dance, going upside down can feel scary and fear inducing. As I guide students through inversions, I relate the fears students might feel to the fears they experience in their daily lives. As we practice what is difficult in a safe space, our fears tend to lessen. This practice can then teach our brains how to do the same outside the dance studio. Additionally, I always take time to give many different modifications to ensure all bodies are able to access the movement. This ensures students are able to find an entrance into what is difficult no matter their body type or skill level, while still giving them the space and support to move through their challenges.

I work to build a supportive community space. I see myself as a moderator for embodied experience and learning. As we work through each movement sequence, I ensure there is time for discussion, partnered learning, and group work. Throughout each semester we learn together, learn from each other, and grow our understandings as a community. We guide each other around the classroom with eyes closed to build trust, create collaborative choreographic works to learn cooperation, and perform a myriad of improvisations to bolster creativity. Woven throughout are group discussions about the theoretical and culturally specific ways in which we are experiencing each exercise as a way to build awareness of topics in a way that is relevant and reflective of each distinct class. This atmosphere of trust, respect and community engagement aids students in developing in a comprehensive manner.  

Outside of being an embodied learning technique, dance opens the mind to the arts and creative empowerment. I connect art, historical knowledge, and sociopolitical movements together to help students understand the significance of artistic inquiry. I look at each movement I teach through a historical lens and explain where and how it relates to the cultural, social, and political environments it was developed within. I enable students to think analytically about the influence and impact of performance by looking at the lineage of movement styles.  When teaching a ballet class, for example, I take time to discuss the form’s hierarchical origins within French courts and look at it as an ethnic and cultural dance form. By looking at all movement forms with a similar lens, I ensure that no style of movement is privileged over another within the classroom. Furthermore, this fosters an environment to decolonize dance within the university.

Beyond all else, my classes strive to simply emphasize the importance of movement. Can you imagine a world without movement? It would certainly be a difficult world to live in. Now imagine a world where all bodies are accepted, all people feel the importance of their individual, diverse movement styles - where people have a better understanding of movement, and ultimately better control over the outcomes it creates. This is the environment I strive to cultivate in every class.

Photo Credit: Gregory RR Crosby