Social Modern Dance
This technique class is a combination of social consciousness, communal tune-in, and the invitation for each individual to dance her own history and artistic expression. I perpetuate the greatest traditions of modern dance that stem from rebellion, exploration, and unabashed breaks with convention. I believe it’s my duty to teach solid historical foundations that include the subversive tactics and hat-tips to avant-garde artistry. A student in this technique class should expect to grapple with physicality, choreographic content, music, relevance, and ideas that challenge convention and Western-centric ideas. The most important thing I try to teach my students is how to move together. That doesn’t necessarily mean moving in unison, or executing movement in the same fashion. It means a multitude of individually empowered choices to womanifest a shared intent. It means a group that is simultaneously reliant upon and responsible to the ensemble. Ultimately, how we are present in the moment to share weight with a partner or share space in a group is how we are present as a community member. I want my students to be able to check in with each other mid-move to know how the other is dancing a move, and how the other is doing as a human.
Modern/Contemporary Technique – Fast Pickup and the Slow Burn
An Oppenheim Modern Class is about moving large and eating space, but also about subtle shifts in intention, detail, and layered gradations of dynamic. My class work stretches the mind and the body as it relies heavily on skeletal alignment and muscular decision. This curriculum requires of the dancer a willingness to dance and dance – not just see and do. It focuses on a connective quality, investigates transitions, and pushes performative boundaries. It is fast-paced, many-faceted, and demanding. This is not your modern dance be a tree class. The contemporary form of my student is autobiographical based on best practices of our foundations and a hammock swing of luscious flow and vein-pumping poultice. Come prepared to get lost and dirty, then found and full of choice; every action at your own bend and embodied call.
Contemporary Ballet – An Integrated Approach
Enter this tradition to make your own alchemy of technique and choice. My ballet class combines limbs and parts into an integrated whole. Combinations revolve around articulation, unwrapping the body from the inside out, and understanding the efficiency of physics and the skeleton. Artistry is taught with equanimity alongside technical prowess. This class is brassy from the depths, but fully committed to a healthy lifestyle. It coaxes a spilling out of classical line and a controlled wield of power with a strong emphasis on moving through space. Oh, and all the deep plié, turns, pas battu, leaps, and balances fit for any three-tiered concert hall.
Heart Stück Bernie Dance Lab
This is a hybrid course of dance, creative process, and avant-garde seminars and experientials from DC-based dance company Heart Stück Bernie. Units include contemporary technique, improvisation, choreographic tools, site-specific work, performance art, Dada, French New Wave Cinema, Comix, dance diplomacy, dance criticism, choreographic ethics and responsibilities to an audience, and theatre production. Students workshop a moving manifesto that explores identity and extreme performance choice. The lab culminates in a showing that highlights niche talents in a collaborative, student-directed production. No prior dance experience necessary! Artists of all kinds are welcome: dancers, actors, visual artists, musicians, vocalists, filmmakers, writers, and photographers. This course can be specialized for various populations (academic, outreach, all ages) and lengths of time including: semester-long electives, weekly classes, weekend workshops, master classes, intensive settings, and vacation arts programs.
Improvisation and Intro to Choreography
I believe a comprehensive choreographic education starts with improvisation for four distinct reasons: 1) learning to create movement sourced from outside inspiration or simple tasks as opposed to just creating ‘cool’ movement that goes with the music, 2) watching group improvisation trains the eye to see the components (time, space, energy) as parts of the whole, 3) the generosity of unexpected moments and happy accidents, and 4) creating and executing improvisation scores allows for more creativity and exploration than starting a choreographic education by merely filling in choreographic structures (ABA, theme and variation, fugue, etc.) with movement. I relate improvisation and choreography from the start to underscore the importance of ritual practice, noticing structure, witnessing process, responding to impulse, carving out flow, and building a skill set that focuses on vocabulary expansion and choice edits.
Choreography: Dance Theatre, Immersive Experience, Site-Specific
This course is about guiding students through master-imitation and personal inspiration practices and projects that cultivate responsibility to the work, and to the viewer. We focus on establishing the artistic voice and identifying the foundational ingredients that serve the emotional arc of a dance and the honesty of movement expression. We study the complementary and colliding ingredients of dance and theatre – and how spoken word, sound score, costume, scenic design, and lighting affect movement material. We look at site-specificity and explore its implications in movement, activism, community engagement, and arts advocacy. Imitation, inspiration, political, and ritual projects celebrate an avant-garde approach to choreography with roots in subversive practices, guerilla happenings, and long-form research.
Fundamentals of Ballet/ Fundamentals of Modern for Non-Majors
This is a lab (and a little bit of lecture) course of designed practice, investigation, viewership, and fundamental aesthete building. Strength, agility, choice, and performance quality will be honed as the student practices fundamental to advanced steps, exercises, and combinations on the ground, across the floor, in the center, and through lengthy movement phrases. The class work values a student’s commitment to process with attention to athleticism, nuance, and musicality. Students will be expected to recognize and utilize dance terminology and etiquette to reference movement and execute dance sequences. This technical approach aims toward correct body alignment and kinesthetic awareness with a semester-long expanding movement vocabulary that will include: classical technique, contemporary technique, conditioning, and discussion. This class is an integrated approach between technique and performance quality; students will be expected to work on attention to detail in a physical and emotional capacity.
Dance Appreciation, General Education Course
An examination of dance as an art and form of multicultural expression, ritual, and tradition in which students develop a shared language of dance critique and apply aesthetic interpretations and critical evaluations to recorded and live performance.
This course familiarizes the student with practices, philosophies, terminologies, styles of dance, and careers in dance, as well as dance’s relationship to other art forms. Dance and culture are explored through lectures, readings, recordings, journaling, discussion, and experiential dance activities. This is a lab and seminar course of designed practice, investigation, viewership, and fundamental aesthete building. Expected is attention to detail in a physical and emotional capacity. Coursework is passionately dedicated to a particular bent on race, culture context, and emancipatory lenses. Students can expect to step outside their comfort zone in order to develop a striking point of view and deeper understanding of the self. Semester’s end usually reveals a responsibility to arts advocacy from a decidedly different stance than the beginning.
Creative Movement for the Youngest Dancer
Ballet Barre exercises are taught in the center so that training immediately establishes stabilization by pushing though the floor and finding efficient alignment. I teach my youngest dancers how to navigate the balancing act of weight shift, length, and creative freedom with a distinct mixture of structured exercises and imaginative movement activities. Combining ballet structure and creative movement provides a framework for teaching the basics in which each Dancer learns the technical tools necessary to express individual voice and variation. A 60-minute class includes: community beginning, stretches, barre(less) exercises, and across the floor movements. Every third exercise calls for creative expression – sometimes spontaneous, sometimes particularly directed. Half way through, the class participates in a group activity with performer/audience sharing. The last portion of class is dedicated to an ongoing piece of ballet choreography, as well as 10 minutes of tap to teach rhythm and speed.
Community Engagement with At-Risk Youth
I have been working with youth outreach programs since 2000. I started as an arts educator for California’s Central Valley elementary schools. I moved onto free afterschool workshops for underserved youth in Berlin, Germany and New Delhi, India. My recent work brings avant-garde arts education to disenfranchised youth around the country. I believe the boundary-pushing content of performance art combined with the discipline of dance practice can empower the artistic voice of disenfranchised youth. I am passionate about opening the box, and inviting young minds to step outside.