I thoroughly enjoy the chance to mentor students on their choreographic explorations and embodied research. Over the past few years, I have developed several strategies designed to enter into that relationship from a place of empathy and compassion. I believe that when students are engaged in art-making there can be a fair amount of vulnerability involved. It is important to build a space of trust where students are developing skills, taking risks, and becoming more open to the feedback process. It is an interesting relationship and one that I am fascinated by. Being a process mentor does not mean that you have all the answers, but are able to ask poignant questions and offer moments of encouragement/challenge that will guide the student and, hopefully, facilitate growth. Sometimes this growth can have moments of discomfort, but in my experience, the students make very important discoveries about themselves and the creative process. Below are some highlights from 2018-2019.
Photo of ISU Dance Major Emmanuel Chavez performing To the Core. This work was choreographed by fellow dance major Amanda Stubblefield and presented during an adjudicated concert at the 2019 Northwest Regional ACDA at University of Utah. It was subsequently selected for the Gala Concert and was considered for presentation at Jacob's Pillow. At the time of these performances, Emmanuel was a freshman and Amanda was a senior. Amanda began exploring this dance the previous year during a composition course. She was somewhat hesitant to present at ACDA, but eventually agreed to move forward on creating a new version with a new dancer. The response to the work was simply astonishing! During the feedback session, adjudicator George Staib, remarked that the choreographer was "brilliant" and "pushing post-modernism into a new era."
My primary role as process mentor, was to encourage, ask questions and offer feedback regarding the all-important comedic timing that was an essential element of the work. This work was selected for inclusion in Black Rock & Sage, an ISU Journal celebrating student research in the humanities.
Photo of ISU Dance Major, Zachariah Mulberry (class of 2019) performing his solo Boy; 1994. Zachariah was interested in exploring a deeply personal solo for his culminating experience at ISU. He was struggling with editing and discovering a clear intent. Zachariah is very conscientious and sought feedback from a multitude of sources. Through his process of sifting through feedback and inviting others, including myself, to attend his rehearsals, he arrived at a greater sense of clarity. The result was one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching solos I have ever witnessed. He achieved a work that was emotional without being melodramatic and it felt like an honest expression of several complex issues. Zachariah studied abroad during his last semester and continued to develop this solo by incorporating aerial dance, a form he is very passionate about. I was thrilled to see that he continued his journey with the work and am excited to see what he will do next!