Sarah Coolidge

Dance Artist & Educator

 

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Above all else, my teaching philosophy is grounded in providing a welcoming, supportive space for learning and approaching dance training with a seriousness of purpose, but not so seriously that the ability to play is lost. The aim is to strike a healthy balance between strict technical training and nurturing the artist in every student – balancing clarity of movement with somatic experiences.  

 
 
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MODERN/CONTEMPORARY

I teach modern/contemporary dance courses that are not only influenced by my training in the techniques of May O’Donnell and Alwin Nikolais, but also of my own personal movement style which favors clean lines and unexpected quirkiness.  Each class begins with movement intended to encourage dancers to tune into their bodies, find their breath, establish flow, and create heat. Exercises and phrase work progress in complexity and difficulty, focusing on increasing kinesthetic and spatial awareness, efficiency and articulation of movement, and alignment. Time is also spent practicing verbal and written articulation of concepts, movements, and phrases presented in and created outside of class. Participants creatively engage with the style through improvisation games and choreographic exercises.

 
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JAZZ DANCE

The jazz dance courses I teach are informed by my training in Jack Cole technique and current trends, and engage students with the history of Jazz Dance, its phenomenon and changing character throughout the years.  Dancers enjoy experiencing the vernacular, theatrical, commercial, concert, and contemporary styles of the art form through phrase work, improvisation exercises, and choreographic projects. Material presented in class emphasizes proper alignment, physical aesthetics, articulation of isolations, rhythmic and dynamic differences, and phrasing. Students also practice verbal and written articulation of concepts, movements, and phrases presented in and created outside of class.

 
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BEGINNING BALLET

In this course, beginning dancers and those new to the style are introduced to the fundamentals of classical ballet including barre, center work, and across-the-floor movements with emphasis on body alignment and elements of ballet style.  Broad-based, the class encompasses the traditions of, but not restricted to, Vaganova, Cecchetti, the French School and others. Material is presented in a progression from basic to more complex. Students are introduced to and practice verbal and written articulation of concepts, movements, and phrases presented in class. Lectures consist of pertinent references to dance history, terminology, movement theory, and dance films illustrating related subject matter.

 
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STRETCH AND STRENGTH

This course is a fusion of ballet barre, dance conditioning, pilates-based movement, yoga, and other bodywork modalities.  Based on the fundamentals of ballet, the exercises draw from ballet technique, and emphasize efficient body alignment and placement. Through a series of standing and floor exercises students will learn how to develop the long, lean lines and fluidity of ballet, as well as gain the strength and coordination necessary to properly execute both sustained and explosive movements contemporary choreography demands. Combined with low-impact movements designed to tone and strengthen the muscles, the selection of exercises is also designed to balance the body, prevent injury, and improve posture, as well as increase flexibility, endurance, coordination, and agility. Topics supporting optimal fitness and performance are also discussed.

 
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INTRODUCTION TO DANCE / DANCE APPRECIATION

This is an introductory course that is one part technique and one part exploration of dance as a cultural and artistic mode of expression. A primary focus of the course is on establishing and supporting a strong, safe, and efficient movement foundation from which to work and grow.  Broad-based, students will explore the styles of ballet, modern, and jazz dance, as well as participate in structured and freeform improvisation exercises and choreography projects.  Material is presented in a progression from basic to more complex. Students are introduced to and practice verbal and written articulation of concepts, movements, and phrases presented in class. Discussions and coursework consist of pertinent references to anatomy, dance terminology, movement theory, dancer wellness, dance history, and dance films illustrating related subject matter.  

 
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IMPROVISATION

Participants will explore various facets of improvisation and develop skills needed for performance and dance creation through guided movement experiences and games.  Designed to encourage the dancer’s creative individuality, exercises will broaden self-awareness, encourage dancers to break free from personal movement habits/biases, investigate the differences between authentic and stylized movement, and creatively explore the dance elements of time, space, energy, shape, and dynamics.

 
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DANCE COMPOSITION

This course provides movement makers a space conducive to personal artistic exploration needed to develop their own artistic voice and begin establishing a habit of artistic creation. In addition to investigating and experimenting with various, diverse choreographic processes throughout the course, students will also identify and confront personal movement habits, examining how the culture in which we live influences our preferred aesthetic biases. Participants will gain experience creating solo, duet, and small group phrases of varying length both independently and collaboratively. Through participation and critical analysis of structured compositional exercises, homework assignments, pertinent readings, and live and recorded performances, students will be exposed to the tools needed to create successful dance pieces.  Using Liz Lerman’s, Critical Response Process, students will practice thinking critically about art as well as giving and receiving feedback. Beginning levels focus on forming content, analyzing those creations, and beginning to identifying an artistic voice. Advanced levels focus on developing and portraying meaning through the work we create, taking into consideration audience, venue, and community. All students will develop an artist statement as part of the final project, to be presented in a public forum.

 

DANCE FOr ATHLETEs

For over 12 years Sarah has enjoyed working with various kinds of student-athletes of all genders to improve their athletic performance and prevent injuries through dance training and conditioning. As a dance scholar and coach of movers, she is interested in the ways which dance-inspired training (both technique and conditioning) can be utilized to improve athletic performance and help prevent and overcome injury, and constantly researches new developments in the field to stay current. Sarah has experience working with athletes from a variety of sports, including football, lacrosse, softball, crew, golf, nordic skiing, soccer, basketball, track and field, tennis, swimming, riding, and volleyball.

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DANCE FOr ATHLETES

Incorporating dance and dance-inspired stretch and strength exercises into athletic training has proven to have many benefits, including increasing body and spatial awareness, coordination, strength and flexibility, and helping prevent injury. Dance For Athletes is a great class for those participating in all types of sports to supplement in-season training, as well as to help athletes stay active and conditioned, or to concentrate on areas not touched upon in detail, during the off-season.  Each class starts with a warm-up to prepare the joints traveling up the body from the toes to head and can be customized to fit the needs of the team or individual.