In April 2013 I participated in a professional development event with dancers, musicians, visual artists, elementary public school teachers and teaching artists. This event focused on collaboration to provide an interdisciplinary experience with the participants.
This full day professional development offered an experience where the topic of Shape, Texture, Time and Collaboration were investigated/explored through interactive sessions with a combination of Dance, Music and Visual Art. Each instructor (Dance, Music, Visual Art) taught and provided collaboration exercises on each of the topics for all of the participating elementary teachers and teaching artists. Three Elements: Shape, Texture and Time were explained/taught/experienced in three different disciplines: Dance, Music and Visual Art. Elementary teachers and teaching artists participated together side by side, each learning from the other. The experienced helped to open the perspective from one discipline to the next, while also revealing similarities between the three forms of expression. For example: how is shape utilized in Dance? In Music? In the Visual Arts? How can we make shapes with our bodies in space? How does a choreographer shape a formation of people? What is the shape of sound? How can we create shapes in our minds? And, after a visual artist is exposed to how a dancer or musician works with “shape”, then how does this further expand how the visual artist can envision “shape”? How can elementary school teachers integrate this experience into the Common Core Standards for Literacy? The professional development event culminated with an “open” collaboration performed/created by all who participated. Professional development can be fun, it can be time consuming and it can be challenging. But most of all it is about growth!
In an increasing complex world, I believe it is essential that we focus on developing students’ critical thinking skills and abilities to creatively solve problems and face new challenges, as well as develop students’ “soft skill” such as team work, negotiation and cultural awareness. This is best achieved through a pedagogical approach that actively engages the learner in real-life problem solving and opportunities for experiential learning in interdisciplinary contexts.
My work as a teaching artist and my artistic practice is a way to show the world how I feel about the world! It is amazing, I train artists to be thinkers, who are comfortable in any environment. Years ago, a respected professor of mine at Indiania University described my artistic vision as "Barlowism".