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Dancing/Integration: Observations of a Teaching Artist

Jessica Renee Humphrey

Abstract


“The dancing does the teaching. The teacher points to that.”   -Steve Paxton

Learning (and perhaps contemplation?) asks people to stand on a foundation made of what they already know and bravely fall, supported by curiosity, into what they do not know. In dance education, this is not a metaphor. The learning process is public in the performing arts, and the focus on the body in dance can make even the most proficient students feel overexposed. I am willing to do whatever I ask of students because I am learning right alongside them. I continue to make dances because I have questions. Contemplative and somatic practices temper my inner perfectionist’s need to answer them. My hope is that my own vulnerability promotes an atmosphere of risk-taking where art simply emerges...and we all point to it. Integration is a central and recurring theme, goal, and catalyst in my life. Creating conditions for integration is a contemplative practice. In my wildest dreams, integration might someday come alive as an experience in those who witness my dances. At this moment in my experience and study, integrating is a process where differentiated parts find context-appropriate, well-timed, dynamic relationship(s) with each other and/or a whole that is undergoing its own transformation into a larger, more complex whole. What are the relationships between my dancing, teaching, and contemplative practices that will act as catalysts in my development as a human being? This piece is an early articulation some of the details of my research and embodiment of integration. It is also, in and of itself, an attempt to further integrate. 


Keywords


dance; education; contemplative practice; contemplative pedagogy; improvisation;contact improvisation;Integral Theory;integration;meditation;mindfulness;practice;performance;somatics;Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis;Body-Mind Centering;embodied anatomy;

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