Teaching

Independent Workshops

I offer a variety of workshops at a range of level at camps, festivals, and colleges, and am a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA). More info available upon request.

American Vernacular Dance Jam

American cultural practices have complex, intertwined shared roots. This workshop will focus on similarities and differences in American social dances, and will play with Appalachian flatfooting, some contemporary urban dances, and vernacular jazz dances like the Shorty George, Suzie Q, and Charleston. Sitting into these vintage dances of African American origins, we'll attempt to explore their social, conversational context, through improvisation, reflection, and discussion of historical sources and sociopolitical issues.

Flatfooting & Clogging
A close cousin of American tap dance, Appalachian percussive dance is a blend of Irish, West African, and Native American Indian dances. While tap is often associated with swing and jazz, clogging and flatfooting have close ties to Appalachian old time music. Exploring the highly improvisational nature of these traditions, we will draw from both clogging and flatfooting vocabulary and examine the places where these forms intersect and overlap. We will explore phrasing, musicality and economy of motion to acquire a solid foundation of rhythmic building blocks. A great class for students of any level; from beginners who want fast-paced steps and improv drills, to advanced dancers who want to hone their technique, facility and repertoire. No previous experience necessary. Leather-soled shoes are recommended but not required.

 

Jazz Era Party Dances

This class will focus on playing with jazz era "moves" like the Shorty George, Suzie Q, and the Charleston- vintage vernacular movement of African American origins done in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.  We'll attempt to return these social dances to their social (as in party) context, looking at some historical and sociopolitical context along the way!

"Signing In” – Finding Your Movement Signature

Ever wondered why you click better with some dance partners than others? Ever wondered why you feel refreshed and energized after some dances and tired and sore after others? Ever wondered if there was anything you could do to reduce the risk of injuries on a crowded social dance floor? In this workshop we'll play with some elements of Laban Movement Analysis to recognize and celebrate our individual movement signatures (i.e. unique combination of habits), and discuss how we might adapt our movement patterns to other dancers on the floor. We'll also warm-up with some gentle dynamic alignment, in preparation for a full day of dancing.

 

Partner Dance Boot Camp
Satisfying partner dancing is all about physics: center of gravity, weight, centrifugal force, velocity, time/space etc. Learning how to use these elements effectively and adapt your movement to each partner is a process of discovering yourself and "listening" with your body. A kinder, gentler boot camp where we bring serious rigor to the simple and elegant fundamentals of having a one-on-one dance conversation - but without the pain and push-ups!

Davis & Elkins College

From 2013 - 2017, I coordinated an American Vernacular Dance Major at Davis & Elkins, a small liberal arts college in central West Virginia, designing an original curriculum to foreground African American contributions to American social and concert dance forms. Afro-Caribbean and Dunham-inspired Modern dance courses were offered by colleague Laurie Goux, and students were recruited from diverse backgrounds including tap, clogging, Irish step dance, ballet, modern, belly dance, swing dance, hip hop, and popping.  This academic experiment was an emotional roller coaster, but resulted in the successful graduation of several Dance Majors from D&E between 2017 and 2019. I am proud to have worked with all of the individuals in the program and the many, many fine guest artists without whose support this project would have never been possible including: Laurie Goux who was already teaching dance courses at the college when they began the major tracks; Becky Hill, Matthew Kupstas, and Gerry Milnes who had already started the Appalachian Ensemble on its successful touring project when I arrived in Elkins; Junious Brickhouse and members of Urban Artistry who were our first public-facing residency for the program offering performance and workshops; Kwame Opare who did our first choreographic residency in "neoclassical" West African dance allowing us to enter our first concert at ACDA; Mary Christensen and Edwin Roa who contributed their partner dance and community organizing expertise, and Shanna Lim who coordinated guest artists including Cricket, Loose Legs, and Popin Pete. 

 

The dance major at D&E was designed to work in conjunction with the performing ensemble and summer program at the Augusta Heritage Center which were distinct entities throughout their co-existence with the broader dance curriculum (this approach had its strengths AND disadvantages). I took over dance directorship of the D&E Appalachian Ensemble from 2016-2017, where it was one of the great delights of my career to collaborate with Emily Miller, and I coordinated American Vernacular Dance Week at the Augusta Heritage Center from 2012-2016. Eventually my dear mentor Ann Kilkelly co-coordinated with me in an attempt to resurrect Augusta's long-running Dance Week with "solo social dances" when the contra dancers ceased to form a critical mass of enrollment and Cis Hinkle, whom I'd been assisting since 2006, stepped back from the week. The last year I was involved, co-coordinating with Teena Marie Custer in 2016, American Vernacular Dance Week was cancelled due to low enrollment; but echoes of the crossover work began in AVDW continued beyond the theme week.