Michael Medcalf


teaching philosophy

Choreography and dance are different. Choreography is the exploration/realization of movement influenced or inspired by myriad social, cultural, and environmental impetuses that, through the lens of its originator, convey historical or contemporary cues about human engagement with his/her environment.  Dance, in all its forms, then becomes the conduit that transmits this information.  Thus, dance educators possess and share with students the genetic information that breathes life into choreography and dance: movement.  Choreography and dance, whatever the genre, then should be approached, first, simply as movement.

The joy that I receive as an educator is witnessing the power of movement to shape and transform student’s lives. This has assured me that by providing them with competent and creative instruction, timely motivation, and support to face practical and theoretical challenges places them on the path towards success.

I truly enjoy how it seems you as a Professor have invested into thinking about ways to reinvent the class so that the structure does not become stale and boring to us as students. It is clear that you take the time to think about how you are going to execute class for the day and what you want us as students to get out of the class as we progress.”


My teaching practice, of any genre, centers around two main principles: self-discovery and the development of physical and mental discipline through the practical application of rigorous technical training.  As an educator, I emphasize that students take an individualize approach to movement: to move through space with kinesthetic awareness of dynamic body alignment and placement in relationship to their own bodies.  In relation to self-discovery, I encourage students to engaging with movement on viscerally, so that it becomes a transformative experience for themselves and the viewer vicariously.  While engaging in this self-exploration I encourage students to also expand their awareness and monitor the impact of this increased awareness on their movement experience and environment.

“The day that we started peer evaluations I believe allowed our eyes to see things differently, and allowed us to become more critical. Because every day we look in the mirror and critique ourselves but it isn’t often that we have the opportunity to look back and critique others to see if what we learn on a daily basis, that we can apply to others as well as applying the corrections to ourselves.”


Finally, I empower students to become aware that dance is a vehicle that can be used to connect to humanity and serves a greater purpose beyond the classroom and the stage, and that discipline in the classroom is a useful tool that permeates into their everyday lives.  I have found that by encouraging students in this way equips them to meet the demands of life inside and outside the classroom with dignity, grace, and confidence. 



My current projects, investigations and inquiry include dance film making and dance history research of the African diaspora. In my research I explore the myriad complexities of the human condition.  In this exploration I engage with various topical issues: identity continues to have a prevailing presence in my contemporary work.  The intersection of identity and universality is the location where I find the most compelling conversations and investigations take place. This tension creates the fodder for which the energy of my work tends to emerge. I take various routes and tactics to locate the entry point, to develop the conversation and to examine the results.