To Be A Dance Teacher

For my Ballet 1 midterm this semester, I chose to do an experimental project with my students titled “To Be A Dance Teacher.” I filmed myself with the help of John Henry Blatter doing some initial hand gestures to allow the students some time to get used to the VR experience, and then I stepped to the barre and performed a plié combination while wearing a 360 camera. I chose to cover my skin completely so the students wouldn’t have to worry about a body swap experience as far as skin color goes, and so they could fully focus on their movements and technique.

After processing the video, the students put the VR goggles on and essentially became me. I taught the plié combination to them before they had the experience so that they could use the time in VR dancing and not trying to learn the combination. In Ballet 1, we have been working on coordination, and precision, and so these are the elements I focused on for the video.  A clip of “To Be A Dance Teacher” is posted below along with a clip of the gesture section underneath it.

The experience of watching the students embody me as a teacher was powerful. I saw students who lacked confidence, exude professionalism and command the space. I saw traditonally rigid dancers, embrace ideas of breathe and flow while wearing the goggles that would take years to teach. From these experiences, the students gained new physical sensations that we could build on in class.

For Ballet 1’s final project, John Henry and I videoed the students doing various barre exercises, and I embodied them to grade them. I learned so much about each of my students! Not one of them can stand still! They are still having multiple problems with the coordination of the movement, but overall they were much improved.  My biggest take away from embodying my students is that I would have taught them completely differently had I had this information at the beginning of the semester. I would have slowed down, and first taught them how to stand still before attempting to plié, rond de jambe, or developpé. I also felt deep compassion for each of them as students trying to wrap their bodies around a really challenging technique. I would have been more compassionate in how I approached their learning, and I feel like I’m a pretty compassionate teacher as it is. A couple “To Be a Dance Student” clips are posted below.

I believe this work has greater implications not just in the field of dance, but also in other areas of education. I would also like to further explore this work in VR as a medium for choreography and embodiment.

Clip of “To Be A Dance Teacher”

Clip of the gesture section of “To Be the Dance Teacher”


Ballet 1 Student experiencing “To Be A Dance Teacher”


Professional dancer/choreographer/educator Scott Putman experiencing “To Be A Dance Teacher”


Ballet 1 Student experiencing “To Be A Dance Teacher”IMG_0475

Ballet 1 Student experiencing “To Be A Dance Teacher”

Ballet 1 Student experiencing “To Be A Dance Teacher”

Ballet 1 Student creating video of a plié combination for their final.

Ballet 1 Student creating video of a battement combination for their final.

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