I have recently been in a situation dominated by “either, or” and it has prompted me to think about this in terms of dance education.

In (dance) education, consumers- and many providers- seem stuck on classifying everything. Rating everything. Judging everything. (Read my article for Dance Advantage on why I refer to the current generation of dancers as “The Hybrids”. ) I find myself frustrated.

Why either, or? Why this and not that? Why what I like and not what I could use more of? Why me instead of you?

What about “and”?

Liz Lerman has been the the most recent “guest thinker” in my classroom. (By this, I mean that I shared some of her words from Hiking the Horizontal, described her work, showed video excerpts, and some of her lectures available online). As a class, explored dance as a means to connect to self, self to group, group to group. We were examining what we have to express and how how go about expressing it. We entered conversations about value, purpose, and measurement.

I shared this talk by Lerman at Simon Fraser University.

In it, Lerman talks about shifting the spectrum of measurement from top down or bottom up to sideways- making room for everything to be seen and valued. She also beautifully explains the catalysts for her varied aspects of work.

I used this as part of the students’ final exam. Create your spectrum- what is at the polarized ends? How do you measure it- vertically, horizontally, circularly? Where do you fall right now? Why? Where have been before and where are you headed next?

There is power in “and”.

My career has depended on it. My experience has depended on it. Hasn’t yours?

5 thoughts on “And

  1. I attended that talk with Liz Lehrman at SFU and it was that very idea of shifting our thinking from a top down approach to a side to side continuum that has influenced my approach to dance education. It gave me a sense of permission to see all forms of dance as equal and important and the freedom to move between different structures, philosophies and techniques as I need rather than what is deemed better or more important. In teaching students from a variety of backgrounds, approaching dance this way gives validity to what they know and less resistance into exploring something new.

  2. Thank you for the video share and for challenging us to think differently. I grew up in a very black and white / good vs bad childhood home. All comments seemed to start with “That’s, good,” or “That’s bad.” I struggle with it everyday because that mentality was so well drilled into me by my parents. Looking at things as on a horizontal spectrum seems a nice tool to work with so that appreciation and respect can go into all ideas and experiences. I currently study improvisational dance and teach dance exploration at my dance studio. My improv teacher loves to say, “Yes, and” as a way to encourage us not to move away from something too quickly and not to get stuck in old movement responses that we use over and over. If a movement opportunity arrises that I am not comfortable with, I say in my mind and body, “Yes, and” as I explore where to go, rather than dancing away from a situation that feels unfamiliar or repeating old patterns yet again. There is indeed power in “and.”

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