Emilia's teaching philosophy is firmly rooted in the importance of providing students with high standard classes that develop their practice towards a professional career as performers, makers, teachers and community practitioners in the Arts. With knowledge of the current Dance Higher Education climate and the increasing issues facing new graduates, Emilia aims to encourage the best possible foundation for their future. It is a goal to produce lessons for students that are both aligned with contemporary professional practice and theoretically balanced, where students can engage and build their physical, creative, analytical and discursive skills for dealing with dance and performance.
Teaching Philosophy: Studio Classes for Undergraduate University Students
Emilia's studio dance classes are based on a style of moving and being that is influenced by a combination of previous training in Somatic Practices, Contemporary Dance and Alexander Technique, with traces of Ballet and Yoga. Classes look closely at maturing individuals’ own body knowledge, physical information, sensory awareness, relationship to time and space, critical-eye, embodiment, creative expression, choreographic voice and performance skills.
Emilia does this through a variety of methods and exercises, working in such a way that allows a two-way exchange between student and teacher, relating Emilia's previous experiences and training to the design of the classes. Emilia firmly believes that each student feeds her professional development, artistic work, pedagogical approaches and practice as research. Emilia endeavours to create and sustain a supportive environment whereby mutual respect and professional etiquette are key.
Emilia tailors classes in accordance to students’ fitness, flexibility, agility, stamina and co-ordination skills, with a steady progression throughout the class and a significant progression throughout the course overall. Emilia encourages students to view their dance classes and training not as exercise in itself, but as the activity that they need to exercise and prepare for, outside of class time. In the reality of the Arts sector, studio-time is extremely precious and Emilia invites the students to consider their transition into professional practice by arriving early and preparing themselves for their class ahead, as well as taking care of their bodies by cooling down sufficiently afterwards. Safe practice is an extremely important aspect of Emilia's teaching and she provides a framework in which students can train safely, as well as providing knowledge as to how they can do this in other movement classes, physical work or choreographic practices. As part of students’ preparation for classes, Emilia provides or encourages individuals to consider the aims and objectives for the class, to think about what they want to get out of the class, and how they wish to use their body as a tool for learning.
Emilia's own technical dance practice and the choreography for her studio dance classes can be energetic, physical and challenging, encouraging students to take risks and find their limitations, or it can also be of a slower pace, more focused and attentive, anchoring in somatic mindfulness. Emilia's teaching tools are embedded in increasing inner and outer awareness, improving alignment, correct use of the anatomical self - by eliminating unnecessary tension or use and resulting in a more sufficient technical and aesthetic precision. Emilia teaches technique to students through specific exercises, but also as part of the process of learning a movement phrase, as opposed to sharing technical notes separately to the teaching of a choreography. Emilia does this so that students may view technique as a core part of their dancing, something that is embedded and central to the movement itself, not a purely aesthetic adjustment or addition. Emilia also focuses on performance-based aspects, such as relationships to others, clarity in movement and the gaze as part of the teaching of choreography or movement phrases, again as another integrated approach. This means that they are then able to learn movement phrases whilst simultaneously considering their technical sufficiency and performance aptness, which will be useful and important within professional stages of their practice. Emilia encourages students to recognise, acknowledge and consciously modify their habitual patterning that may be negatively impacting their body’s safety or aesthetic movement choices. One way in which Emilia does this is through inviting students to critically evaluate their own practice and the practice of others, through a variety of constructive feedback tasks, within a positive environment. An increase in self and peer-recognition and awareness allows students to develop their critical-eye and Emilia encourages students to always affirm themselves or their peers before giving critical notes, ensuring that students do not feel vulnerable at any point but they instead feel supported.
Emilia views performance is an important aspect of any studio classes, although it is normally informal, it provides a regular opportunity for students to become more familiar with performing for others, developing their skills as performers and also as audience members, by training themselves how to watch dance critically. This invites students to move away from a conversation about what they “like” and towards an articulate evaluation of their peers movement and performance. Emilia also motivates students to keep a reflective log or journal of their in-studio experiences, developments and aims for improvements, even if this is not being marked or assessed, as self-reflection and evaluation are extremely important and beneficial in the advancing of professional practice. It is also highlighted that video recording and documenting their practice is a good way for becoming more self-aware, but additionally fulfilling when comparing footage and seeing clear improvements. Emilia encourages students to read, watch, draw and write, just as much as they move, allowing a simultaneous development of body knowledge, intellectual comprehension, creative aptitude and further growth of the self as a whole. Emilia aims to signpost various models of practice and theoretical perspectives to studio classes, supporting students work with academic rigour and further feeding into their overall understanding of their practice, in relation to a wider field.
Emilia's classes provide students with a sound understanding of the opportunities and limitations in which their body provides, as a foundation for individual choreographic work on themselves or others. This also issues safe starting blocks for moving into partnering work or contact improvisation at further stages in their training and professional practice. Emilia teaches improvisation, partnering and contact work with a similar approach to technical-based classes, focusing on body-understanding, awareness of the space or your partner and recognising natural impulses or habits, choosing to resist or follow them. Emilia provides opportunities for students to experiment with choreographic exercises, engaging individuals’ creative enquiry as part of the their studio training. Emilia supplies tools and methods for choreographing the body or devising movement for others, whilst allowing others to trial and test their own ways of working. Emilia firmly believes that it is important for students to concurrently develop a clear voice for creative expression as well as technical understanding and articulation of the body-mind.