My passion is to help students develop deeper, richer and more liberated relationships to themselves, their art forms, and the world in which they unfold.
Inclusive and adaptive feminist pedagogies provide the philosophical ground for everything I do. I prioritize 21st century learning skills including interdisciplinary thinking and creation, digital literacy, personal responsibility, collaboration, and a richly informed awareness of the diversity of human experience. I use my skills as an improviser to create responsive, adaptive environments for learning.
I seek to motivate students as creative architects of their own lives.
I am grateful for a radical, research driven undergraduate education at Hampshire College (no grades, no tests, self-directed!) which taught me that all students can be set free to take responsibility for their own learning – following what has heat and energy for them.nzshaw
All of my group facilitation and teaching is informed by extensive intercultural work and training with the School for International Training Thailand, the Center for Central American Women in Communications Costa Rica, UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Culture – Dance, and the Center for Intercultural Communication. Laura Rendon’s Sentipensante, bell hooks All about Love and Teaching to Transgress, Judy Chicago’s Participatory Art Pedagogy, and Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed are constant companions on this journey. Training and mentoring others in inclusive pedagogy is an ongoing part of my practice. Recently I have added training as a doula and birth justice worker grounded in anti-racist community building and Solution Focused Dialog.
At heart, inclusion in the classroom is about educating the whole student. Whether I am teaching in the studio, computer lab, or seminar room, I find it especially important to start each of my classes with some manner of check-in or mindfulness activity. Students visibly relax and share more freely. Similarly, I work with students to establish community agreements that support risk taking and personal responsibility. This enables us to tackle difficult conversations on race, gender, power and identity with honesty and mutual respect. Effective inclusion also requires a wide range of pathways to success. Students propose their own topics of study more often than not in my classes. They have multiple opportunities to revise their work and propose alternatives. And they reflect on their own learning through structured self-evaluations.
I often invite students to “stay with the questions” rather than becoming attached to a particular outcome. This is an animation created by Tara Burns (MFA 2021) in VR.
Learning in Action
Always experimenting with new strategies, I find research driven, experiential learning particularly effective.
I often use a creative knots strategy I adapted Victoria Marks, designing courses around particular problems and questions identified by the students. I invite students to define a problem they have in their own work and to stay with the questions. They lead a process for investigating their questions with their peers in what I call a research sandbox. Students takes risks and find ownership of the material in this exercise and move away from referencing me as the authority. They ask each other hard questions, give and receive more meaningful feedback, and the classroom comes alive with inquiry.
Faced with increasing uncertainty, students need core competencies, but above all, they must learn to learn.
I find the sensorial and kinesthetic material of the arts particularly exciting territory in which to advance these goals and inspire transformation.nzshaw
Students encounter diverse international and interdisciplinary perspectives in all of my courses. For example, in improvisation we generate movements scores from algorithms. I love the excitement in the room as students make connections between disparate ideas. And in a study abroad course I created, students first conduct ethnographic investigations of their families and neighborhoods at home. In gaining awareness of their own cultural specificity, they are much better prepared to engage with cultural difference productively.
Performance and Technology
As Director for Dance + Technology for over 15 years at Ohio State, I have mentored hundreds of students working at the intersection of our bodies and our technologies. They become valued collaborators skilled in negotiating difference and inventing innovative, socially engaged projects.
I approach this work with an intermedia state of mind; allowing for many possible manifestations of any idea. Intermedia has many meanings and continues to evolve as we recover its origins from the narrow histories typically articulated for it. Intermedia is the dynamic interaction of practices and materials to create works of art. It is conceptual, political and practical.
Images of Student Work
Interdisciplinary Creative Research Studio (ACCAD 7893) The Ohio State University: 2012-2021. Open to graduate students in any discipline, this course fosters creative interdisciplinary research thinking and practices that integrate computing and other technologies. This ongoing cycle sometimes focuses on specific faculty research questions and is sometimes driven by student independent research projects. Students uncover disciplinary assumptions, develop interdisciplinary vocabularies for core concepts and learn to articulate their research outcomes for multiple audiences online and in a variety of venues.
Theories of the Body (DANCE 7406) The Ohio State University: 2005-2021. Considers a collection of historical and contemporary writings on the body alongside examples of contemporary arts practices to build a platform for new scholarly and creative activity. It provides theoretical support for an engagement with the body as a subjective site of knowledge engaging students with the material body as flesh and bone, but also as a construction with changing meanings. Students learn to carefully analyze readings and conduct in-depth discussion of full texts by authors including Michel Foucault, Edward Said, and Judith Butler.
Intermedia (Dance 5213) The Ohio State University: 2006-2018. Intermedia is an advanced composition class for upper division undergraduates and graduate students in the arts integrating the moving body and moving image in performance. The course promotes multi-modal learning through studio practice, production, online discussion, theory and history readings and viewings. Students work individually and collaboratively in class and in scheduled weekly lab time in the Motion Lab.
New Ground (Dance 760.01) The Ohio State University: Winter and Spring 2005-2009. This advanced cycle of graduate courses brings students into current research topics with emerging technologies and the arts. The course is co-taught with faculty in other units including collaborations with the Knowlton School of Architecture (devising modular systems for performance), the Department of Art (body/site/image), staff at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (interactive performance, robotics, algorithms and choreography), and Improvisation Technologies to Synchronous Objects (scoring and improvising across disciplines).
Improvisation (Dance 4290/690.04/646), The Ohio State University: Fall 2008-2015. Students learn a range of approaches to improvisation in dance research, training, and performance drawing connections to contemporary neuroscience, computer science, algorithmic thinking, and somatics. I draw on many dance improvisation techniques from the North American canon including close study with Nancy Stark Smith, Bebe Miller, and Simone Forti. I am influenced by an upbringing in intergenerational community dance therapy context in Boulder, CO and a decade of collaboration with William Forsythe and dancers in The Forsythe Company as well as many years informal practice in Gaga dance, yoga, Creative Articulations Process (CAP), and pilates.
Applied Technology for Artists (Dance 801.91), The Ohio State University: Fall 2006-2011. Hybrid online and in person orientation to media authoring skills for artists including conceptual and practical understanding through software demos, online and in class discussion, and creative projects. Students develop lasting technological skills and obtain new cultural and historical awareness of the roles technology plays in art making and society.
Foundations in Dance Research (Dance 6801), The Ohio State University: Fall 2012-2014. Graduate course adapted from the Applied Technologies course, this course provides a rich orientation to dance in the academy, including digital and information literacy. Students build collaboration skills and develop skills accessing resources in the department and the larger university. Readings, writing, software and hardware tutorials, discussion and presentations constitute the learning modalities of the course.
Socially Engaged Repertory and Performance (Dance 4700). The Ohio State University: Fall 2015 and Spring 2006. Students devise new dance theater work for the faculty concert with me and collaborating designers focusing on current issues in our lives and communities and dance improvisation and community dance practices that help engage difficult issues. 2006 focused on migration of both human and non-human life in the Americas, 2015 focused on climate change, climate justice, and the personal and global impacts of major ecological change.
Intercultural Collaboration in the Americas (Dance and Office of International Affairs 699) The Ohio State University: Winter 2011. http://dancedanzatanz.wordpress.com/. Developed in collaboration with professional contacts in dance in Costa Rica. Readings, guest lectures, viewings, and interactive exercises guide students in fundamental skills for successful intercultural collaboration in Latin America and artistic research. While in Costa Rica, students stay with local families and collaborate with Costa Rican students at a performing arts academy