Jenna as a Teacher
A Look Into My Classroom
As a teacher my first priority is creating a classroom environment that is safe and encouraging for every student, because I believe being allowed to explore one’s craft freely in a judgement free space leads to greater risk taking, increased confidence, and ultimately greater progress. As an eating disorder survivor, it is extremely important to me to model body positivity, body acceptance, and confidence for my students. In my view dancers shine when they understand that what their bodies do for them is more important than what their bodies look like, and I actively share that sentiment with my students.
I work toward helping students gain confidence by creating realistic, achievable goals and giving them the tools they need to reach them through progressive, logically sequenced lesson plans. For example, I may set a goal for a class of mine in October that everyone will be able to do a clean double pirouette by the time they leave for winter break in December. In order to help students achieve that goal I will incorporate drills and exercises for double pirouettes during every class for that time period, and remind students to practice pirouetting at home. Setting clear, attainable goals allows students to feel like they’ve achieved something specific, making them hungry for more growth.
In the classroom I am energetic, excitable, and open to interaction. I give my students the same energy with my voice and physicality that I want them to give me with their dancing. I focus my corrections on safe technique and alignment, musicality, and performance quality. I emphasize counts and connection to the music. I feel fulfilled when dancers improve their rhythmic abilities through my counting-centric exercises and combinations.
I am committed to contributing to the continuation of creating more equitable and diverse artistic spaces. As an educator, I integrate explanations of the rich histories of the techniques my students study to ensure they understand and appreciate the cultures and communities that have contributed to the work we do in the classroom.
Dancing is a physical challenge, an artistic endeavor, a mental practice, and a labor of love. I believe every person deserves the opportunity to enjoy dance whether it’s a hobby or their profession. The dance community should not be an exclusive community, and I am mindful in making sure all of my students understand that they are welcome in my classroom.