I thoroughly enjoy the chance to mentor students on their choreographic explorations and embodied research. Over the past few years, I have developed several strategies designed to enter into that relationship from a place of empathy and compassion. Art-making can create various levels of vulnerability. It is important to build a space of trust where students are developing skills, taking risks, and becoming more open to the feedback process. Being a process mentor does not mean that you have all the answers, but are able to ask poignant questions and offer moments of encouragement/challenge that will guide the student and, hopefully, facilitate growth. Sometimes this growth can have moments of discomfort, but in my experience, the students make very important discoveries not only about the craft of choreography and art-making, but also about themselves.
Photo of Idaho State University dance major Emmanuel Chavez performing To the Core. This work was choreographed by dance major Amanda Stubblefield and presented during an adjudicated concert at the 2019 Northwest Regional ACDA at University of Utah. It was subsequently chosen for performance in the Gala Concert and was then selected for consideration to represent the Northwest Region at Jacob's Pillow. During the feedback session, adjudicator George Staib, remarked that the choreographer was "brilliant" and "pushing post-modernism into a new era." The mentoring process was not always comfortable but the questions and feedback gave the student the space to discover what was possible with the work.
Photo of Idaho State University dance major, Zachariah Mulberry performing his solo Boy; 1994. Zachariah was interested in exploring a deeply personal solo for his culminating experience at ISU. Through the process of sifting through feedback from a variety of sources and being open and receptive, he created one of the most beautiful, honest, and heart-wrenching solos I have ever witnessed.