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Teaching Philosophy

  • I believe that a proper and polished classical technique is the root of all dance training. This technique should be free of nuance and affectation and should be presented to the student in a manner reasonable for their physical and mental development. My classes are structured with great attention to detail, and the material taught within class each class is mastered before introducing new steps. I believe in systematic, well-thought exercises that progress in difficulty over time. I am also a strong proponent of repetition. 

  • If dancers are later to be able to find abandon within their movement, we must first provide them with a "safety net" of proper technique which to depart from. Later as our dancers progress, we can add layers of artistic challenges to their work and encourage their own artistic presence to enter the studio. I believe it is important to demonstrate and demand a "presence" within the exercises beginning in the early stages of a dancers' training. Presentation is a huge part of the foundation of classical dance as a whole, and therefore it should be taught with emphasis from the beginning.  

  • My class is structured around the following things; proper classical alignment, a clear demonstration of technique, stamina & repetition, the expansion of movement from the body, development of individual presentation, the abandon of tension & physiological stress, musicality & phrasing, and most importantly, the freedom and joy of dancing. I believe that dancers should "dance" within their classes. There should be a sense of energy and life to proper technical training.

Music, the breath behind the movement......

  • Music education is so important....Period. This means that when teaching my classes, I introduce the principles of music necessary to work within the ranges expected at the semiprofessional and professional levels. It is important that students understand the signature and tempo of the music selected in addition to other things.

  • Syncopation, uneven phrasing, and multiple or unexpected accents are important to introduce to the dancers in the intermediate levels.These elements are too complex for beginner dancers. In the advanced levels, I introduce more complicated musical aspects to the class and within choreography. I believe that the music should be the source of our movement, and we should not expect dancers to move without the competence of what is moving them.

 How I instruct my dancers.......

  • Everyone likes to learn, if learning is made an enjoyable process to them. When teaching class, I try to present clear classical demonstration and explanation. While doing this, I try to make my expectations clear while relating to the class in a manner that keeps them engaged and excited about the material.

  • I think a good balance of humor and high expectation is key. Each dancer is going to have a different body, different methods of learning, and a different identity all together. I try to relay my expectations to each dancer knowing that each is individual. Each dancer is going to comprehend what is being said in their own way. While there is definitely "right and wrong", I like to give my dancers a little wiggle room to find their own interpretation of what I am asking of them. I want them to develop a sense of curiosity, and compel them to discern if what they have interpreted falls in line with what I have demonstrated or demanded.  

  • I want each dancer to feel special in my class. This is because they are. Everyone brings something unique to the table and I love that. I educate because I love to dance, and I love to teach. Therefore my primary goal is to pass along my appreciation of the art form while providing my dancers with an exciting environment to nurture their own appreciation.

Sample of my teaching

© 2020 Michael Fothergill. All rights reserved

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