DANCER | TEACHER | CHOREOGRAPHER
EVE ALLEN GARZA
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
A student becomes a successful performing dance artist by embodying versatility. A versatile dancer is able to communicate through movement with a vibrancy that sets them apart from the rest. A versatile dancer is confident in their execution of dance technique, open to movement exploration, and is adaptable. These qualities form the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy. Through an academic approach to dance education, I help students develop a deeper appreciation for their art form, a greater awareness of ballet traditions and standards, and an enthusiasm for the choreographic opportunities available in the contemporary ballet world.
I structure my lessons to build upon each previous class in order to develop confidence and physical strength and give students criteria and definitions of dance standards so that they can self-evaluate, resulting in more self-assurance. My values are best understood by looking at my teachers and mentors. Miriam Allen, my first Royal Academy of Dance syllabus teacher, has a keen eye for the technical precision required to satisfy requirements and standards set by the London headquarters. Her demand for excellence meant we set standards high for ourselves and would leave class with a sense of accomplishment, especially following our examinations. I incorporate the same ideals into my university classes, in particular, the logical progression of technique to ensure safe and successful advancement. As one student remarked, “Eve was fantastic at addressing each individual within the class. She pushed me to improve, not to do it letter-perfectly.”
Alexander Van Alstyne, artistic director of A.V.A. Ballet Theater, helped me to develop an appreciation and understanding of the subtleties of performance and the importance of practicing this not only on stage, but also in the studio. His choreography, which is developed almost exclusively by musical inspiration, requires a very communicative dancer with the ability to commit fully to the steps given. In the studio, my teaching focuses heavily on the dynamic qualities of movement, with emphases on clarity, musicality, and muscular efficiency. I challenge my students to use musical impetus to propel the body harmoniously with the music, rather than reactively. We work on the co-ordination of the whole body, particularly the use of upper body expression and eye focus, in order to reflect the phrasing, atmosphere, and rhythm of the music.
In a successful learning situation, students will be more confident in their execution of dance, thus leading to dynamic performance qualities that indicate clarity and technical precision, and a communicative stage presence. One student exemplified this on my teaching evaluation by saying, “Eve helps every student reach the next level in their technique. I feel like I become a stronger dancer every semester I take her class. She notices little details and knows exactly what a dancer needs to do in order to achieve a certain step or skill.” Efficient movement is key in taking ones technique to the next level. Because ballet may feel foreign to a dancer’s natural movement instincts, it is my responsibility to use imagery, tactile feedback, and anatomical references to help the dancer work in a skillful and resourceful manner, resulting in the efficiency needed to progress. Ballet is a useful tool in expanding students’ ability as performers and will increase their own choreographic language, thereby offering them more opportunities in the professional world.