Teaching & Classes

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Presently, I direct a transdisciplinary Master of Fine Arts program with choreography, creative writing, interdisciplinary arts, and visual arts practices at a college rooted in the liberal arts tradition. This is the setting where we can best foster the archetype of the artist-scholar through training in both practice-led and academic scholarship. In fact, training in creative writing, dance, theatre, and visual art is not simply about preparing an artist to make their way to the page, stage, or gallery. The process is, at its core, about helping a person better understand—and communicate—their own humanity. That understanding led me to embrace postcolonial perspectives and practices in both education and artmaking. This perspective blends well with contemporary educational theories regarding collaborative learning environments and varied teaching techniques; and places an even keener focus on students developing a high level of critical thinking skills, as well as the ability to identify and articulate their own sense of moral and aesthetic values—at both undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Joshua Legg. photo: Joshua Kennedy

When possible, I utilize an anthropological perspective to demonstrate the connectedness of artforms as expressions of the human condition across socio-cultural backgrounds. This provides room for expression of diverse experiences and perspectives, creating a broad-based forum for individual and communal discovery and dialogue, particularly where matters of race, gender/sexuality, and faith are concerned. Therefore, I work with an eye toward decolonizing the curriculum and toward expanding the artists represented in both my courses and the program I direct. 

Because artists across disciplines share the same instrument—the human body—I am interested in breath as a core motivating factor in artistic training. Artists must be present in the moment—they must be aware—in an integrated body-mind-spirit. I utilize the Bartenieff Fundamentals (that help connect with natural movement patterns) and a variety of other somatic practices to support self-awareness and encourage the artist to approach awareness as a constant, conscious state of doing. Mostly, I am interested in movement efficiency, in getting out of the bodymindspirit’s way, and expressing what is essential in the human spirit. We move/write/speak/do/make from there, exploring space and place, time, memory, moment, and self.  

Additionally, I am a certified Reiki Master (a receptive somatic practice), and teach meditation/visualization techniques. In general, I strive to help students develop into healthy, strong, skillful artists and freethinking human beings. As an educator, my job is to give my students a solid foundation so that they may understand the past and set a clear destination for their future(s) while being rooted in the present. I believe, ultimately, that when exceptional persons work toward excellence, they can achieve the extraordinary.

MASTER CLASSES | WORKSHOPS | RESIDENCIES

I am available for a variety of artistic and scholarly opportunities from master classes to lectures, residencies, and guest curatorial experiences (of both visual art exhibitions and live arts events).

MASTER CLASSES
Ballet: an American approach that emphasizes length of line, dynamic alignment, articulate feet, weight shift, and musicality.

Improvisation: starts with the acknowledgement of improvisation as a performance technique in its own right and a practice of artistic freedom in the moment, not simply as a tool to develop set, repeatable choreography.

Modern Fusion: an eclectic blending of principles and ideas drawn from Dunham, Horton, Humphrey, and Limón with a contemporary twist that focuses on musicality, dynamic use of space, and bold, expansive movement.

Modern / Contemporary Partnering: introduces basic concepts of partnering between two or more dancing bodies, with an emphasis on safety and biomechanics.

Musical Theatre: a straightforward Broadway styles class. 

Taylor Style: my take on elements central to Paul Taylor’s choreographic style.

WORKSHOPS
Dancemaking: experiences can be designed for beginning through advanced student choreographers focusing on either classic or contemporary composition practices. This workshop can be tailored for P-12, undergraduate, and graduate settings.

Movement for Actors: drawn from somatic forms, and practices such as Viewpoints, this workshop is designed to help actors better understand their own bodies and ways of moving in order to create embodied characters.

Period Dance for Actors: a brief introduction to Western dance forms and their place in theatrical performance. 

RESIDENCIES
Artistic: I am available as a guest choreographer and theatrical director on projects that span classical and contemporary performance modes.

Site-Sensitive Performance: explores the art of performance-based environmental mediation and the development of art outside of traditional theatre spaces.

Teaching: multi-day or longer term teaching projects are possible as well.  

LECTURES
The Rise of American Modernist Dance: This lecture is a companion to my book which traces the evolution of concert dance from the late 1880s through 1957 via the advent of new dance training practices.

Katherine Dunham’s L’Ag’ya.

Crossroads: Modern Dance & Anthropology: The contemporary focus on interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary work is not simply a new fad within the American academic and artistic communities. In fact, this lecture addresses the intersection of modern dance and cultural anthropology in the 1930s & 40s, and the techniques and bodies of art that emerged from this interdisciplinary activity. The primary focus of the lecture is Katherine Dunham’s research-to-performance methodology, but also addresses the work of Pearl Primus and Lester Horton.

Creating Effective Syllabi: A Workshop for New Teachers: This discussion/workshop is designed to help new teachers gain greater confidence in building a course roadmap. After a brief discussion of contemporary college-level educational paradigms, attention is turned to construction of an effective syllabus that benefits students and teacher. In the workshop portion, students will work build the outline of a new course syllabus.