DANCE MONKS | Photographer: Robbie Sweeny
Dances arise from the stories held in our bodies, collective histories, traditions, lost narratives, experiences, and the spaces in between. Movement helps us to know ourselves and, at the same time, challenge those perspectives, creating pathways toward unexplored potential. We no longer simply choreograph unison dances. We observe that while unison movement could be a powerful method to gather strength in our togetherness, it also has the capacity to control the spirit of individual expression. We ask ourselves to dig deep.
What moves us? And how can movement incite the change we wish to see in ourselves and the world?
As teachers, we seek out diverse perspectives and encourage students to see the world through the lens of possibility and connection, seeing themselves reflected in our research and challenged to explore new viewpoints. While listening to a talk by the late Sonbonfu Some, of the Dagara of Burkina Faso, she shared that it is customary in her culture to give a child a name that becomes a compass for their life's purpose, pointing towards their unique path. The elders raised the children in the heart of the village to remember this essential wisdom. Our fundamental role as teachers is to support our students in refining their way.
It is our fervent belief that many of us today carry a deep longing to know who we are (self-knowledge), what our unique purpose is (creative voice), and who will support that purpose (community). In today's educational systems, reflective teachers and administrators look to decolonization practices and emancipated intercultural theory as ways to reconcile with this foundational amnesia and centuries of forced cultural assimilation. The arts, dance specifically, are often overlooked as essential to this profound reckoning. As dance teachers, we must see and reclaim our practices as a powerful response to what is needed within the context of a world in flux. We ask ourselves, how do we (as artists) remain flexible and strong in the face of tremendous and, at times turbulent change? As teachers, we strive to create a learning environment that is a meaningful space for students to feel safe to land in, where they are supported to explore their emergent sense of self as a unique expression within the context of these times.
We consider the body an instrument that can be fine-tuned to access one's creative voice and sensitize our kinesthetic perceptions. We offer rigorous, comprehensive physical training to encourage students to make brave choices in response to social and environmental change. We gather teaching material from our in-depth research and experience in interdisciplinary Contemporary practices, Improvisation, Partnering, Composition, Site-specific performance, Acupressure (Certified), Indigenous Wisdom of Rodrigo's homeland of Mexico, Dances of the African Diaspora, Acrobatics, and Somatics.
As DANCE MONKS, we recognize dance as our daily discipline that nourishes our instincts and creative voice as an experiential relationship with body and place. With the senses activated, we listen and respond with the body as a method of communication. We are guided to find the truth as we move through states of greater awareness. Physical investigations break open our ability to listen to the mythic inner world, the environment, and each other. Dance becomes the lens through which we see ourselves and the world, allowing space for growth and reflection in a safe yet challenging environment.
Our most influential teachers include Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig (as members of Pearson/ Widrig Dance Theater, NYC for 1993-2000), Dr. Yanique Hume (1988-present), renowned Mexican choreographer Gerardo Delgado (1990-93), Martin Prechtel (in-depth studies with a traditional elder of the Tzuitzil Mayan tradition 2010-2014).