CLASS WITH ROBERT
The primary objective of class is to develop students’ deliberateness of movement. To this end, students cultivate their self-awareness through the three practices of honesty, care, and generosity in class. These practices challenge students to actively engage with the work and recognize their own place within it. Class resists the hierarchy of professor and pupil, hoping instead to empower students and emphasize their personal responsibility to artistic integrity and growth. Class is designed to help them strengthen their artistic voices by demonstrating how honesty, care, and generosity contribute to an ongoing practice of deliberateness and creative investigation.
To move honestly in class is to recognize intention. Whether it be focus, sensation, or the body’s placement, students are challenged to continually question whether they are merely “faking it” during class. This level of introspection is difficult to sustain and is unrealistic to expect 100% of the time. However, by acknowledging when and how we lose honesty in the movement together, we inevitably can practice returning to it. The pursuit of honesty teaches the students to engage on a deeper level than simply showing up and performing dance steps by processing their relationship to the movement beyond its base execution. Through the practice of honesty, students interrogate their motivations so that they may reinvest themselves and stay present.
To move with care in class is to recognize the significance of even the slightest detail to the greater structure. This does not mean exerting full effort at every turn as that is antithetical to moving efficiently. Rather, students quickly learn that even the most casual of gestures should not be confused with insignificance. Caring for detail brings a fullness of performance that encourages students to attend not only to the highest of développés but also the subtlest of weight shifts. It is a challenge that stretches the students’ focus across the entirety of their physicality and also forces them to analyze even the most ingrained of habits. Through the practice of care, students develop a detailed understanding of movement and thus are able to find nuance within it.
To be generous in class is to be open to vulnerability and support the vulnerability of others. Experiencing vulnerability is a necessary part of learning and it is imperative that students recognize this. They cannot be expected to push their boundaries and challenge themselves if they are afraid of failure or of being vulnerable. Practicing generosity, students work collectively to trust and support each others’ progress in class. This relies on the students’ earnest investment to develop self-awareness, however, it cannot be achieved if they do not feel safe or supported. Students learn how the practice of generosity is dependent on the commitment of everyone involved to allow us all to be open and accepting of vulnerability.
Individually important, the sustained practices of honesty, care, and generosity can together serve the greater purpose of cultivating deliberateness and self-awareness. The ultimate goal through class is to help students develop these tools through which to better understand how we dance and why we dance. The class seeks honesty of intention, care of detail, and generosity of effort, to encourage dancers to think and move deliberately so they may earnestly approach any form of dance. I do not claim to hold every answer. Instead, students are encouraged to respond to the information offered and accept the inevitable limitations of my personal knowledge. While the physicality of class is, naturally, based in my own perspective, by developing the ability to move deliberately, the class works to ensure that students will be able to move beyond my small corner of the dance world and be better equipped to embrace everything that follows.