We sat down to talk with our Artistic Director Darion Smith, whose newest work for student dancers, Leaving Now for Later, is coming to the stage April 5, 2019. Darion shares his thoughts on dance education and choreography in the higher education setting.
Life Lessons for Students Learning Choreography
For dancers, learning choreography by also participating in its creation provides a rich opportunity to build and practice skills that are necessary for success in life on and off the stage.
Within the process of choreography and performance invaluable moments arise where thought processes are being constantly challenged and you are being called upon to make decisions.
Building Problem Solving Skills through Movement
Learning choreography is, basically, a problem solving obstacle course. Each time you work through new choreography, you create new tools, or fortify the tools you already possess. This is not just for the dancer, it is also the case for the choreographer.
The choreographer presents a problem and, together, the choreographer and dancer(s) work collaboratively to create solutions. There are parallel creative processes in other fields, including the sciences, math, music, and engineering.
For Smith, he feels he becomes more of an artist than an educator when immersed in a creative endeavor like this one. In the moment, he is not expressly trying to “educate.” Rather, he is aiming to solve a problem. In the development of a new work like this one, that problem, and its path to resolution, can be intense.
However as an educator, and because of his experiences, he is able to see things throughout the process that the young dancers cannot. As a result. Smith is teaching them to learn by taking risks, making mistakes, and anticipating problems and solutions in a way that better prepares them for the role at hand, and the roles to come.
In this sense, he is teaching students in a powerful and practical way. Rather than educating them for the sake of educating them in a general sense, he is working with them to build the practical skills that make them stronger, more confident problem solvers and creative thinkers, in addition to stronger and more confident dancers.
Attend the Premiere
All of this hard work in the studio will culminate in a premiere performance April 5th - April 7th at the Smith Theatre, located in the Horowitz Center, on the Howard Community College campus, in Columbia, Maryland.