MFA Monday

MFA Mondays

For those of  you who may be new…The “MFA Monday” series features the advice of Masters of Fine Arts.  Enjoy their thoughts on the process of attaining an MFA!

         by Angela Falcone

 Oh grad school…

Falcone3Being a current first year M.F.A. candidate/student at Texas Woman’s University, I have quickly learned the heightened expectations of a graduate student.   One of my professors, Sarah Gamblin, said one afternoon, “you must do everything to the nth degree.”  After she mentioned this revelation about graduate school, my life has been turned upside down.  I am in my second semester of what everyone calls the “first year” and the journey has been everything I have expected…challenging, stressful, and rewarding. Not only am I tested mentally and physically every day, I am one part of a community striving to better themselves as artists and as dancers.  Below are three revelations I have had about this journey…so far.

1. You can never “over do” an assignment. 

I have always been an “A” student throughout my academic career, but I have never had the pressure of succeeding and/or being challenged to this degree.  If you think you are doing the assignment “correctly,” better think again.  I have quickly learned the expectation of an assignment is truly infinite.  If it is one blog entry for .5 points of your overall grade, you better be writing that blog as if it is your proposal for your final paper. Having adapted to this type of expectation over the past semester, I am rapidly becoming a better writer, thinker, innovator, and creator.  I am so thankful for this revelation!

2. It is not the “what” that is important anymore, but the “so what.”

I am one of the many students at TWU that went straight from undergrad to graduate school.  In saying that, I have quickly realized within my very first class, I need to dive deeper into the topic at hand.  Regurgitating information (like a banking system education) is not the expected anymore.  When stating anything, I now know I need to find connections, anomalies, dichotomies, and/or possible links between any and all things, no matter the significance (because everything means something).  I am still working through the kinks of this revelation in my writing.

3. Process! Process! Process!

My background mainly consists of drill team training, which is coined (in the dance community) as a genre that does not challenge process and is completely final-product based. I would like to shift this paradigm and invite improvisation and collaboration into the drill team process.  Normally when I choreograph, I would have every detail planned out ahead of time, but now, I am well aware of the possibilities of improvisation and provocation (Larry Lavender’s term). This semester, I have had many revelations in my own choreographic process.  I am granted four hours a week with my dancers, which is just enough time to play, experiment, create, and collaborate.  The process of creating work has truly been stimulating and invigorating.

These revelations have truly shaped the artist I am becoming.  I hope to one day be able to succinctly articulate how the impact of dance has had on my life, but until next time…

Angela Falcone, a Houston native, graduated from Friendswood High School in 2007. She was a member of the drill team, the Friendswood Wranglerettes, where she held the title of Grand Marshal. After graduating, she followed her dream and tried out for the Kilgore College Rangerettes. She had the honor of being chosen as the Freshmen Sergeant and Swingster her freshman year, and received the greatest honor of being chosen as Captain her sophomore year. Following graduation from Kilgore College with an Associate in Fine Arts, she was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin, where she holds a B.F.A. in Dance. Angela currently attends Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas where she is pursuing her M.F.A. in Dance. She is specifically interested in shifting the paradigm of high school drill team by reinvigorating the choreographic process and bringing a somatic awareness to high school dancers’ bodies.


MFA Monday

MFA Mondays

MFA rightSurprising things I discovered when entering Grad School


I would make friends.

I thought when I went back to school to get my MFA that I would be entering an uptight academic environment.  I was so preoccupied with the idea of school and relocating my life that I forgot I would be entering a community of like-minded peers. In undergrad, even among dance majors, I was considered the “dance nerd.”   In grad school I was surrounded by not only dancers but specifically  “dance nerds,” people who wanted to explore, dissect and reveal as much about the art as I did.  This community turned out to be a vital support group throughout the process of completing my degree.  Having others to bitch to, socialize, laugh, and share my fledgling art with became essential for my survival during this stressful time.  These bonds were not only a lifeline during the process but created many long lasting friendships and an excellent network that stands strong long after graduation.


The teacher/student relationship has evolved.

When you enter a graduate program you have already passed a test in the eyes of the faculty.  You have already completed one major academic step and have decided to continue onto another. There are fewer grad students for them to keep track of and you yourself are probably a much better student.  For me this reduced a lot of the intimidation I felt with my undergraduate professors.  While I had (and still have) great respect for the faculty who guided me through my MFA program I sensed a more open relationship with them than I had past teachers.  I believe this allowed me to ask for help in my learning process more readily and, in turn, gave me the most out of the program.



It’s not only about making the art.

I thought that majoring in choreography would be all shop.  I would create pieces and receive feedback to make them better. Having received my BFA only 5 years prior I don’t know why I didn’t realize that the program would be so well rounded.  I teach non dance majors now as an adjunct professor and explain to many undergraduate students why this dance class they are taking for a fine arts credit helps them become more well rounded. On arriving for my MFA orientation I was reminded that we would be looking at choreography from more than the perspective of the choreographer creating the work.  We looked at it from an audience members point a view, where the work stands in our culture, and what the choreographer’s life entails.  Somatics classes informed me about my body and technique classes gave it new and inspired ways to move. It wasn’t just about spacing, timing and costumes. While few credit hours are spent outside the department (9 out of 60 in our department) you do have the opportunity to explore other fields. I took Global Arts, Multicultural Education and Exercise for Older adults, all of which significantly help me in my jobs today.  I arrived thinking I would only create choreography leave ready to start a company.  I came out with a more open mind about where dance stands in our world.  While creating work on occasion my current bread and butter lies in getting others, college students both in and out of the arts, children at local dance studios, and adults from beginner to professional to expand their knowledge of dance.  Much like the MFA program did for me.


B0061P 0098Amanda Diorio is an adjunct faculty member at UNC-Greensboro and Elon University.  She teaches adult classes open to the public at the North Carolina Dance Project where she is also a member of the board of directors.  Amanda holds an M.F.A. in Choreography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a B.F.A. in Dance from Temple University. She has taught, produced, and choreographed dance extensively in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina at universities, studios, public and private schools and community centers. Specializing in Contemporary, Jazz and Hip Hop techniques she enjoys spreading peace, love and understanding through her teaching of dance, choreography and culture.

Tuesday Tunes: Rachel Holdt

Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes: Rachel Holdt


What music inspires you the most in the classroom; in the choreographic process?

Having recently completed my MFA at Mills College in Oakland—and having worked with and been exposed to the world-renowned experimental musicians there, I do approach this particular topic with a great deal of self-realized snobbery.

Inspiration comes from many sources, and less is definitely more, but soundscapes that evoke ideas are the most compelling.

Jacaczek, a polish electro-acoustic musician is one of my most fruitful sources of inspiration in both the classroom and for choreography. 

I tend to lean heavily towards the electronic artists, but there are very few acoustic or traditional musicians that move me as deeply.  I find that electronic musicians can create an environment that can be more loosely interpreted than direct methods of traditional musical artists, giving me freedom to create with the sound or directly oppose it.  Some other favorite electronic artists are Squarepusher, Aphex Twin (AKA Caustic Window and AFX, Richard D James), AutechreUlrich Schnauss and Goldfrapp. Continue reading

MFA Monday

MFA Mondays

MFA rightInterview with Lauren Small

by Hannah Jackson


HJ: What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of the MFA program for you?


LAS: Remaining engaged will probably be the most challenging aspect of the MFA program for me. I tend to have a short attention span when it comes to long-term projects or being in one environment or city for too long. Three years is a long time. Being present for the entire journey could be a difficult task for me.


HJ: What do you feel that you have to offer the dance world that no one else has?


Lauren Ashlee SmallLAS: I am very attuned to minor details. Although it may not always show in the process of rehearsing and performing the works of other people it is apparent in my own choreography. Details such as slightly disparate angles of the head or placement of the hands or contractions of the body between various dancers involved in my work cause me to pause a rehearsal to make adjustments. I find meaning in details like gesture and body language and breathing that others may not interpret or include in their choreographic process. This observation and criticism of detail has allowed me to improve my teaching skills, make interesting decisions with choreography, and to pick up differences in movement techniques and styles at a solid pace. I cannot say that this is something that only I can offer to the dance world, however it is unique and leads me to study choreographer’s who express this same attention to detail.


HJ: Is there something in particular that you feel burdened to create work about, or do you cull from various subjects (and if so, what piques your interest)?

Continue reading

MFA Monday: an inteview with Hannah Jackson

MFA Mondays

MFA rightLauren Ashlee Small: What would you say has been your greatest achievement or milestone during your first year in your MFA program?


Hannah Jackson: Honestly, the biggest milestone was getting married this summer! But as far as within the program itself,  there were many smaller class assignments that were achievements for me personally because they asked me to do something I was afraid of. But I’m very pleased with a paper I did for the first semester research and writing class about kinesiology for dancers. It required me to grow in both my writing and my research methods.

LAS: What do you hope to learn, gain, or create within your second year of study?


HJ: This semester I’m taking Dance Kinesiology, so I’m really hoping to cement my knowledge of that. I’m also hoping to create a work that I can be proud of for this semester’s choreography class.

LAS: You have had the unique experience of teaching classes at the same university before the MFA program began. What insights have you gathered from being on that side of the learning experience?


HJ: I definitely gained a greater compassion for the professors. You know how it is as a student–the professors’ world seems miles away and their decisions incomprehensible. Having to be on that side, watching how decisions were being made, helped me understand the reasoning behind why our program runs the way it does. It also made me a better student and dancer, especially because my students would watch me in class sometimes. I had to practice what I preached, turnout and all!

LAS: What motivated you to pursue your MFA in Dance, and how would you encourage others considering the option?

Continue reading

MFA Monday: Lauren Ashlee Small

MFA Mondays

MFA rightPart 4

The MFA journey has finally become worth it to me.  There is no doubt in my mind that I must participate. I am very excited to begin this journey even as I write this post after a long morning of placement classes, followed by training for my new job at a local gym and celebratory peanut butter cookies at home with my roommate tonight. I am finally beginning my MFA and have all of you, dear fellow Framers, to thank for sharing your stories and paving the way.

Opportunities have come in waves Continue reading

MFA Monday: Lauren Ashlee Small

MFA Mondays

MFA rightPart 3 After a year and a half in New York City I knew it was time to go. I missed my family and having a community I could go to when I needed a hug or a pause from the daily grind. I missed academic study. The intense focus on the physical aspect of my training and performance left me feeling underdeveloped. The analytical, question-asking side of my dance experience was not being explored to its fullest and had not been since college. I moved home to Illinois once again and asked myself if it was time to go back to school. I had been studying various graduate programs since senior year. I knew that I wanted an MFA in Dance… until I moved home to apply for the fall semester. All of a sudden a billion questions surfaced that had never before been an issue for me. I questioned whether dance was for me at all. If I had not stayed in New York City and sustained a life of prominence within an elite professional company was I cut out to dance at all? Was I getting too old?

Continue reading

MFA Monday: Lauren Ashlee Small

MFA Mondays

MFA rightWhen Grad School Becomes Worth It

Part 2

Finding my way out of the airport, hailing a cab, riding into the city to the serendipitous sound of Alicia Keys singing Empire State of Mind, and finding my way to my new home created adventure enough! It was here that I poured everything into my dancing. I tried new styles, met an array of crazy, talented people and movers, and explored my own craft of choreography. I began to want more. Spurred on by the sights and sounds of the city I entered my work into dance festival after festival and found the choreography well-received. I auditioned for a dance company, a cruise ship, and a few musical tours for the experience, interned and understudied with a dance company and performed with another all while completing the program at Ailey and receiving a scholarship for my next two semesters of training.

Lauren Ashlee SmallIn New York I learned the value of hard work. With mandatory classes all morning and afternoon there wasn’t much time left for traditional work. Several days a week after class I booked it from Midtown to the Upper East Side to babysit the cutest kid in the world across from Central Park. I worked at Saks 5th Avenue as often as I could and picked up gigs here and there including weekend work for the 2011 New York Bridal Expo. I learned determination, commitment, and the power of resolve by pushing past obstacles in my technique, choreography, and performance, but more importantly in life. became my go-to website for audition postings and choreographic opportunities, and I used the small stage in the basement of the building where I lived to hold rehearsals for my various projects.

Between the load of classes, rehearsing, and walking everywhere I possibly could, I built up endurance and conditioned my muscles and mind in a new way. The struggle to walk up and down the busy streets of Manhattan and not get trampled was lesson enough in itself.

Everyone has a place to be, a strategy, and a story. It was this experience of walking that gave room for a lot of reflection and examination of my life and the lives of the people around me. As a result, I became more decisive. I figured out what I wanted, where I was going, and what worked for me. Most importantly, I soon realized that I wanted and needed to create more frequently and that I needed to feel respected and important in any environment that I was working in.

These two revelations proved vital to my next move.

Stay tuned for Part 3, coming next Monday.


Lauren Ashlee Small is originally from Springfield, IL. Her training began at Springfield Dance and the Springfield Ballet Company and continued in college where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Belhaven University. Lauren went on to study in The Ailey School’s professional division as a recipient of The Oprah Winfrey Foundation Scholarship and to perform with Amalgamate Dance Company and Dance Into Deliverance. Her choreography has been featured at The Ailey School, Belhaven University, American College Dance Festival, Undertoe Dance Festival at the 92nd Street Y, the New York Jazz Choreography Project, and in Amalgamate’s 7th Annual Artist Series. Lauren has interned with Free Arts of Arizona and Amalgamate Dance Company and was a guest artist at the 2012 Teen Arts Performance Camp in Washington, DC and Emmanuel Ballet Academy’s 2014 summer intensive in Juarez, Mexico.


MFA Monday: Megan Yankee

MFA Mondays

MFA rightAfter the Master: Only More Questions


In the last of my articles, I’d like to highlight some of the ideas and articles that have helped me maintain focus in regards to my professional dance career after graduation. After finishing my studies, I was overwhelmed by the challenge of finding, paying for and sustaining three important aspects of a dance career:

  • a regular challenging movement practice or class,
  • a large and diverse dancing community, and
  • a place to rehearse and present my work.

During graduate school, I often reminded myself that the resources available to me at the time wouldn’t last… that I would miss them when they were gone. That wasn’t even the half of it.

I don’t just miss them. At times those things feel completely elusive. At times I feel entirely confounded by how to find or create opportunities that would grant access to these integral parts of a dance career. And in those times of confusion, I end up questioning my decision to build a professional dance career in the first place. After much soul-searching, I settle on more practical questions like the following:

  • What is the role of the independent dancemaker in our country?
  • How can dancemakers contribute to the wellbeing of a city, state or county?
  • What, if any, education should be involved?
  • How do you pay for dancemaking?
  • How do you nurture a local community through movement?
  • How reliable is croundfunding for projects vs. government funding?

I haven’t come to any concrete answers, but, as I said, I have a direction.

I want to convince the city of Columbus that my and others’ dancemaking is a valuable part of a thriving city.

Amy Querin, Dance Artistwww.amyquerin.comMy direction is likely different from yours, but, for my last blog, I thought I’d share and summarize the articles that have influenced my perspective on the current and potential states of contemporary concert dance in our country. The following are continual sources of comfort and guidance for me. They help me regain a sense of national context for dance that can be elusive when making dance in cities with smaller or non-existence dance communities.

If I can no longer make dance at a university or college… If my last resort is creating my own dance community in a city that is new to me, then I’ve found the best way to start is to develop my ability to describe the value and benefits of my dancemaking for the city. These articles provide assistance in doing just that.

The View from Here: A report from The Brooklyn Commune Project on the state of the performing arts from the perspective artists (Abridged) was published in January of this year. I stumbled across it in an article in the Huffington Post by dance artist Nora Younkin which I describe lower down in the list. The BCP, now practically over, continues along as a Facebook group. This report details the nature of funding for the performing arts based both on the authors’ experiences and research from the National Foundation for the Arts. Most importantly, it introduced to me the possibility of considering the performing arts a “public good” due to the many benefits they can provide. Also, here’s a shortened TL;DR version: BKCP Artist Action Flyer

The next link is a summary of a summary. Found on the Rand Corporation’s website, Reframing the Debate About the Value of the Arts is a short article describing the corporation’s new report entitled Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts. The summary and research (available on Amazon) both provide me with the language to describe in detail the many benefits of the arts. What is especially helpful is the delineation between instrumental and intrinsic benefits as well as guidance in developing “language for discussing intrinsic benefits that is clear and compelling and reflects the importance of qualitative as well as quantitative issues.”

When I found the next article, I distinctly remember my resulting internal sigh of relief. After a full year of not having produced any work myself (only performing in others’ works), it was comforting to read another dancer’s perspective on the difficulty of sustaining a company or career in dancemaking. Dance and Capitalism: A Love-Hate Relationship was written by dance artist, Nora Younkin and published by the Huffington Post in January of this year. It touches on similar topics as the first article I listed. At times understandably defensive, Younkin both describes her frustration with and details her concerns about the dwindling funding available to contemporary dancemakers. Much like myself and some of the resources I’ve listed, her writing ends in a question: Dance “is asking for validation that [it] has a place in our culture and society worth preserving. So the question is: Does it?”

The next article is a rebuttal to Younkin’s. I found it when reading the comments below her article, which are still available for you to read as well. Who Should Pay for the Arts?: Private support beats public subsidies was written by Jared Meyer for City Journal, a publication that calls itself “the nation’s premier urban-policy magazine.” Because I have lived and worked in North Texas, a part of the country with few funding sources that are available to independent performing artists, I’ve always tried to understand the perspective described by the author in this article. I find it helpful to consider this perspective, as it is those with similar perspectives that I will have the toughest time convincing to help fund my projects.

The final report was produced for the National Endowment for the Arts in 2008 by Jennifer L. Novack-Leonard and Alan S. Brown. Beyond attendance: A multi-modal understanding of arts participation is a summary of survey results conducted in order to better understand the ways in which audiences engage with the arts. It is similar to the first article I listed in that it provides a way of languaging the value of arts, but it’s also helpful to simply provide statistics therein when trying to convince of someone the worth of your projects.


It is my hope that in providing these articles I might incite one reaction from my fellow dancemakers: consider and question your role of the dancemaker in society.

If non-academic resources for dancers dry up, then I worry that it may lead to some form of unintentional creative homogenization in this country. American dancers will have to continue to venture to the coasts to find challenging, inspiring dancemaking communities, leaving the rest of the country in drought. If those who want to make dance are only able to do so in a college setting, then what happens to those dancemakers who can’t go to college? What happens to the dancers that can’t get a job in a college? They may simply become lost artistic voices. Are we willing to let that go as a society?


In the final article in this series next week, we will hear from Amanda McCorkle. Amanda and I graduated together in the spring of last year. Since then, she has taken multiple positions as an adjunct professor in the North Texas area teaching various courses including dance appreciation and hip hop and a few in between. Let us know if you have any questions or comments by emailing me at


Megan Yankee (interviewer, writer, curator on MFA Monday) is an indie dance artist that seeks opportunities to make and present dances in alternative spaces in order to expand the reach of concert dance. She is committed to presenting work and curating concerts in houses, busy street corners, warehouses, dance for film, online and in visual art galleries. She has performed and presented work nationally and internationally at the Nomad Express Multi Arts Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso produced by Olivier, the Sonic Arts Research Center in Belfast, Northern Ireland, American Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival, Texas Dance Improvisation Festival, Movement Intensive in Composition and Improvisation in Lancaster, PA, Emerge and Exchange Dance Festivals in Tulsa, OK, {254} Festival in Waco, Texas, Out of Loop Festival in Addison, TX, and the Rogue Festival in Fresno, CA. She has had the honor of performing in works by Christie Nelson, Amie LeGendre, Larry Keigwin, Michael Foley, Jordan Fuchs, Sandy Mathern-Smith and Sarah Gamblin.

Megan holds (and runs with) an MFA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and currently lives in Columbus, OH with her partner, John Osburn and their two dogs, Weecho and Lucy.

MFA Monday: Erin Law

MFA Mondays
MFA rightGood Morning!  Framers, I am so pleased to bring you Megan Yankee’s next installment of MFA Monday, a rich interview her with colleague and friend Erin Law.  Enjoy!


After the Master: Interview with Erin Law, M.F.A.

I am happy to present my interview with Erin Law this week. Erin and I met at Denison University where she was teaching as a visiting assistant professor in the 2012-2013 school year. We have since traveled to Burkina Faso (West Africa) together to perform a work by Sandra Mathern-Smith. Her warmth and expertise is something I greatly admire and I cherish her friendship and mentorship. If you have any questions for her, please email me at and I will happily forward them to her. Enjoy!


M: How are you using the knowledge and experiences you gained in grad school now (outside of work)?


E: I think mainly the knowledge and experiences I gained serve as a reminder to stay true to myself no matter what. In school I had the opportunity to delve in deep, to explore and discover my aesthetic voice. I think that in this world that often devalues art as a valid form of work, it is important to stay connected to self and to have integrity in the face of adversity.


M: Do you have a regular movement practice (even if it’s atypical)?


E: I am sure to move (consciously) every day in some way, even if it’s not exactly how I desire. I have enjoyed walking a lot recently. I like to connect with the environment that way. Sometimes I do small dances while making cowe are animalspies, others I stray from the path that leads directly from point A to point B…


M: What was your focus in grad school?


E: I focused on improvisation as performance. Through collaboration and experimentation I discovered many modalities through which to become more specific and rigorous in improvising as a soloist, part of a group, and as a contact dancer. I also focused equally on developing my skills as a sound artist. I did this so to face my fears and self-judgment and also to be able to make things that I could post online without worrying about how copyright laws apply to the presentation of my work (live or online). Although it was my last semester I discovered film through a composition class we took and I fell in love with it. So while it wasn’t a constant focus when I was there, I have continued to explore it in my independent professional work.


M: How/did your employment status shift after grad school? What was the job search and application process like for your current position?


E: Each school year following graduate school, my employment status has shifted. After graduate school where I was a Teaching Fellow, I moved back to Tennessee and did some adjunct work at Middle Tennessee State University. This was a huge turning point for me as a dance educator because I was asked to teach Dance Appreciation as a general education course. I had to learn quickly how to shift from depending largely on my body as a teaching tool to becoming an engaging lecturer. I found that the vast array of things I had been exposed to in graduate school combined with my training from Integrated Movement Studies (Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis) served me here, because it prepared me with the skills to create meaningful hands-on activities for very diverse groups of students. I then became a Visiting Assistant Professor at Denison University as a sabbatical replacement the following school year. This was my first opportunity to work full time teaching both theory and technique courses, creating choreography, and advising students. This gave me the chance to expand on things I had been developing over the last several years of my teaching career in a very supported and focused manner.

This year has been the most challenging in terms of finding meaningful work. I have experienced a lot of potential opportunities, rejections, and a great sense of humbling. I am proud of myself for my perseverance.

I feel, despite the lack of fruitful employment after a year of searching, a freedom to imagine new and different pathways for myself in the near future. I am still applying for academic positions but I am also interested in freelancing and collaborating with dance artists with whom I really want to work.


M: What is your opinion regarding the state of adjunct positions in the US?


E: I preface my personal commentary by saying I have not researched the state of adjunct positions here, so I am coming from my own frame of reference as well as hearsay from fellow adjuncts. First, I believe it must be a very different experience depending on which school and region one works. I think there is a double edged sword with adjunct work: there is less institutional responsibility, freeing me as an artist to do other things with my time but then there are no health benefits, the pay is very poor and the teaching load can still be incredibly demanding. I have enjoyed having less institutional responsibilities this year, it has allowed me to do other things with my time. Then again, as someone who enjoys investing in my students, I find myself naturally inclined to advise and mentor students; it provides me great fulfillment. This is where boundaries are fuzzy because it is not part of my job description, I am not getting paid for it, but there I am doing it anyway. I think adjunct positions—specifically in dance—only exacerbate our masochistic cultural tendency to work (or in some cases, toil) for free “all for the love of dance.” It can create in me a sense of resentment and devaluing of my own skills. It is certainly not a sustainable source of employment, but I can see how it could be useful for some.

The thing I struggle with is that adjuncts and tenured professors could be providing the same level of quality teaching but are not receiving the same benefits for their work.

Adjuncts are left out in the cold when it comes to issues of health insurance, travel benefits, and general accessibility to the perks an institution can offer. We all need to be compensated fairly for our work and that is not happening.


M: How are you using the knowledge and experiences you gained in grad school in your current position?


E: I have several jobs right now so this question has different answers depending on which job I am discussing…I will start with my day job. I support a high school English teacher who is blind. This was her very first year teaching and she had a lot to learn. Although it was not part of my job description I found myself having philosophical discussions with her all year about how to approach teaching …I think I served her as a type of pedagogical advisor. I have helped her to consider how learning can be a hands on activity and a kinesthetic experience. I have been able to bring the analytic skills I acquired in graduate school to my job evaluating her work as well as the students’ work.

In my adjunct work, the connections are much more straightforward. As I discussed before the exposure to so many different contemporary artists helped prepare me to teach Dance Appreciation. I also feel that getting to teach and take several semester length technique courses in graduate school allowed me to understand the flow of a semester and how I wanted it to progress for my students.                                                                                                                                     

 I think one of the most instrumental or significant/sentimental ways in which my experiences in grad school affect my current work is in my independent choreography.

I feel much more adequately prepared to take on big projects and take really big risks. I am not as attached to my work and don’t treat as this precious thing that is an appendage of my own body anymore and I owe that to the critique process I experienced in grad school.

I seek out critical feedback which is something I never did before in Nashville.


M: Roughly how many times have you performed or presented your work since you graduated. How does this compare to the amount of times you did so during and before graduate school?


E: I have presented work about nine times over the last three years since I graduated. This includes the production of three dance films, two of which were presented as part of live performances. During graduate school I performed or presented work one to two times per semester over a total of four semesters. I was definitely making work and/or involved in others’ work during graduate school more intensely than when I left. A marked difference in the timeline of producing work is that I now seek my own opportunities to present work and thus decide (within reason) my own deadlines/show dates, whereas in graduate school, these things were essentially determined for me. In this way it feels equal. Before graduate school I presented work as part of annual or semesters’ end dance concerts more frequently than seeking alternative or site-specific performance spaces. I adhered more to a studio’s schedule than my own desire to make work. I enjoy that I am liberated from that now!


M: Is there a project you’re itching to get started on?


E: I am very excited to start on a project that I will present at the end of July. Earlier this year I had an anxiety dream related to work and it featured me digging through bags of underwear and markers. My friend (and collaborator) suggested I shed the anxiety aspect of the dream and explore the specific images of underwear and markers in a dance. That resonated with me immediately so I started dreaming up ideas. I am looking forward to working with a few improvisers to develop a performance score with these items and mainly the freedom they represent to me.

Erin Law is a movement educator, improviser, choreographer, and performance artist based in Nashville, Tennessee who is determined to both challenge and bring harmony to her community through dance. Recently she has completed a yearlong Visiting Assistant Professorship at Denison University where she restaged a choreographic work and taught Somatics, Understanding Dance, Laban Movement Analysis, Contact Improvisation, Senior Research, and Cultural Studies as sabbatical replacement for Dr. Gill Wright Miller. Previous engagements include an adjunct professorship at Middle Tennessee State University and Assistant Director of the co-curricular Vanderbilt Dance Program.

Originally from Massachusetts, Law attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. and high honors in dance. She went on to the Integrated Movement Studies program to certify in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis (LMA) through the University of Utah and in the spring of 2011, Erin graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program in dance at Smith College (Massachusetts) with her MFA in choreography and performance.

In her independent work Erin is currently pursuing the integration of site-specific improvisations in movement, identity theory, sound, and film under the project heading salt_space. She is collaborating with fellow dance artists Janelle Bonfour-Mikes and Travis Cooper in a performance piece exploring both the repression and unleashing of humans’ animal nature with the working title “Underwear and Markers (We Are Animals)” which will be shown in late July 2014. Erin is delighted to have just returned from Burkina Faso, Africa where she had the honor of performing with Sandra Mathern, John Osburn, and Megan Yankee in Mathern’s multi-media work “I Am Relative to You” as part of Olivier Tarpaga’s 2014 Nomad Express Festival.

Megan Yankee’s MFA Monday arc began last week and continues next week!