St.Stephen's Dance

Welcome to the St. Stephen's Dance department! There are so many ways that a dancer can be involved in the school's dance program; whether they are a beginner, advanced, aspiring-professional, or recreational dancer. Please browse this website to learn about opportunities in the dance program.

Bonnie Cox, Director of Dance

bcox@sstx.org

512 327 1213 ext. 237


Bonnie Cox Teaching Philosophy

In my twenty years as a dancer I have found balance in scholarship, choreography and performance. But the soul of dance burns brightest when I teach. Whether conducting a class for the recreational or professional dancer, I invest myself fully in my students as their teacher and mentor. I learn about where they come from, what matters to them, and how to turn challenges into curiosities. In turn, from executing a dance move to choreographing a piece, I ask my students to explore their “why.” Doing so galvanizes them to be inquisitive, make meaningful work, and fearlessly set creations in motion. By staying grounded in purpose, students build an awareness of how their work, in any discipline, weaves into the greater fabric of society.

My appetite for social justice and community engagement drives me to structure an inclusive learning environment. I strive to level the academic playing field for students who have been historically neglected by academic institutions. My experience as a female person of color and mentor to first-generation, low-income students motivates my application of culturally-responsive pedagogy. My approach requires understanding that students’ cultural attributes are critical assets. I validate and affirm their cultural knowledge and experiences in order to help make their educational journey successful and meaningful. At the same time, I incorporate high- impact teaching practices in the classroom. I deliver assignments and expectations transparently, incorporate materials that reflect diverse identities, and give equal weight to process and product in evaluations. I develop personal relationships with students and encourage them to vocalize their unique experiences and perspectives. Together, we build a classroom community where we honor one another as learners and culturally complex beings.

To encourage students to grapple with culture and society in their learning, I guide them to unearth the socio-cultural and historical context of dance phenomena. Incorporating various theoretical lenses from philosophy, performance studies, and ethnic studies, I facilitate rich investigations that stimulate creativity and deep understanding. To target various learning styles I invite large and small group discussions, guide embodied explorations of concepts, and incorporate the use of technology and digital media in the studio. Bringing real world concepts into the dance space and investigating them multidimensionally contributes to a holistic, socially relevant dance experience for students.

With a solid foundation in multiple forms of dance, I am able to offer students technique classes in contemporary, modern, jazz, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, house. I begin Applied Arts I: Dance Technique and After School Dance Technique courses by having a discussion with students about their previous training and their goals for the course. Based on that conversation, I structure an initial class where students can demonstrate their level of acquaintanceship with the dance form as well as their strengths and challenges. From there I establish a level appropriate course plan. Each technique class involves a somatically sound progression that lubricates the joints, cultivates a supple spine, and warms up the body through yoga- and pilates-based strength exercises. For the beginner dancer, I focus on cultivating a solid foundation in safe, efficient, anatomically sound movement. Once students indicate an understanding of anatomic integrity and the mechanics of movement, I invite them to push the edges of their artistry by experimenting with range of motion, use of space, velocity, and nuance. Regardless of level, I prompt students to dance intentionally, making each detail of their performance a conscious one. In every dance technique class, I meet students where they are on their journey and provide scaffolding to help them grow in their abilities

In Applied Arts I: Choreography I provide a framework for students to craft their own dances in an honest and supportive environment. I begin by facilitating a variety of experiments to help students generate innovative movements. Students then develop an independent solo piece, where I challenge them to dive deep and explore their internal worlds. From there they may choreograph a duet or group piece, with the option to collaborate with other classmates as “co-lead” choreographers. Through the progression from solo to ensemble, students gain experience working alone and collectively. They practice giving and receiving instructions as they communicate and participate in artistic visions. To stay rooted in purpose I urge students to seek meaningful themes and issues to fuel their dances. I support them as they explore newspaper articles, poems, pictures, and other relevant media that might inspire their creativity. Students engage in a constructive feedback process where they reflect on work presented by fellow artists, articulate what they see and feel, and provide the choreographer with various viewpoints. This iterative process helps each artist develop and revise new dance works in alignment with their personal goals and intentions

Involving oneself in the study of dance requires acknowledging and appreciating humanity. As dancers learn about themselves and the expressions of others, they learn to accept cultures, viewpoints, and bodies that differ from their own. That is why teaching this craft is my most important work. I am constantly intrigued by how dance allows us to employ the power of the body and express a unique depth of the human experience. It is my privilege to share this world with St. Stephen's students, wherever they may be on their dance journey, and help them cultivate a practice in meaningful, personal expression.