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  • Writer's pictureMarianella Desanti

Discovering Dance Teaching as an Art Form

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

I had been teaching dance for years systematically and mechanically and until a series of experiences would shake this practice at the very core.  I started an intellectual and practical exploration and I discovered that teaching dance was, unquestionably, art.

I had been distracted at first with class structure and methodology.  I think most dance teachers are.  I was absolutely obsessed with correcting technical imperfections. 


Lost in the challenge of dance proficiency, of liberating from error.

Then a moment of perfect artistry and inspiration happened in my classroom.  I saw it flicker in my students' eyes.  Dancers suspended in beauty and time forever.  The spell broken, the struggle and hard work return, yet the dancer forever changed- the human vulnerable but louder and stronger.

Another day, it happened again.  As Picasso would have described in his own words, the inspiration was real and found us working.  Through reflection I discovered that the moment of artistic explosion had been created by a delicate sequence of stimulating exercises, sensations, patterns, and experiences.  A perfect connection between mental exploration and the embodiment of dance artistry.

I started working harder.  I started diving deeper and began creating a dance class based on experiential learning beyond teacher direction.  The dance and exercises in a structured sequence lead the dance student to work on technique delicately woven into artistic experimentation.  Time created for class sections incorporated and repeated.  And repeated.

The class carefully crafted and the dance technique a vehicle for exploration in itself.  The physical rigour when worked on through careful timing and understanding leads to a meditative state of higher cognitive awareness.  True learning through discovery, feeling and physical challenges... And through this process I now see my dancers become.  I become witness to an artistry and dancing evolve beyond my own as my students colour and texture their learning to a unique voice and expression.

I stand forever changed.  I stand overwhelmed with a feeling of connection, of heightened awareness, of grandeur and smallness, and trembling sensitivity that only inspiration confers.  I stand humbled.  An artist discovering a new vehicle and challenge to my creativity.  A dance teacher discovering, exploring, transforming the mundane work of the class into dance art.   

Photograph by Adriana Porras

 with Mariana Solano, ballerina.


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