Chair of the Dance Department
Bennington College, B.A.
New York University, M.F.A.
Interests: Gardening at CSW and home, enjoying my first dog since childhood, learning Spanish, traveling, scuba diving in warm climates, moving through space.
The best thing about teaching at CSW is the level of commitment that students, staff and faculty give to their work and the joy they show in doing it. At CSW, one is surrounded by colleagues who set an example for innovative teaching, commitment to their students, and intellectual rigor. Ideas and energy flow freely between community members as we explore the boundaries of what is familiar and dare to push beyond. We are constantly asking the question, “What can I be doing better?” and then having the freedom to act on it.
My favorite course to teach is the Choreography Seminar and Dance Concert Projects. It is remarkable to see how much independent work goes into creating the dances for the concert—and how much students learn in the process. I marvel at how, after a few years of exposure to this course, students gain the skills to be competent leaders, original thinkers, organized managers, and self-disciplined, autonomous workers. Students truly make their own inquiries into what it takes to be an artist and what their values are, and the thoughtful debates on aesthetics and art within the seminar group are fascinating.
The best thing about CSW students is that they are quite serious about taking responsibility for their education. They choose to make the most of the experiences we offer them and are eager to be challenged and to grow. They are also eager to use their unique talents and voices to make contributions to our community.
A student project that really stands out in my mind is, surprisingly, one that failed. This student put quite a bit of work into choreographing a complex dance. Even with considerable feedback from the seminar participants, it was too convoluted in its structure and too complicated in content to work. When her dance was not selected for the dance concert she was devastated. For two days she wept—angry at me, at the process, and at her peers. On the third day she came back to me and said she wanted to try again. In her spare time, with no particular goal of a performance, she returned to the studio to work on a series of small studies. The following year, on the first day of the seminar, she announced to the new students that not having her dance selected for the previous year’s performance was the best thing that could have happened to her; the experience paved the way for her subsequent creation of a very beautiful and successful group dance.