Wendy Blum, M.A. New York University, Performance Studies; B.A. from Wesleyan University, Dance/College of Letters, is pleased to be the full time dance educator at PS32 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Previously, she was a teaching artist, writer, and researcher with Lincoln Center Education (since 1999) and a teaching artist with Orchestra of St. Luke’s for nine years. She recently worked as a facilitator and professional developer with public school dance specialists for the Arts Achieve project, a collaborative research project with the NYCDOE, Metis Associates, Carnegie Hall, Studio in a School, Art Connection, Cooper-Hewitt and 92nd Street Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL), funded by the US Government’s Investment in Innovation (i3) and Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination grants.
I aim to engage students, teachers, parents, and administrators in the many values of dance education, not merely via performance, but also by way of active reflection, creative problem-solving, questioning, and exploring.
I am a steadfast proponent of imaginative learning in student-centered classrooms that ask students to solve problems creatively, think critically, describe in detail, analyze evidence to formulate opinions, expand vocabulary, and work collaboratively.
In my classes, students embody ideas in movement, notice deeply, formulate and posit questions, reflect, and uphold a safe environment in order to experiment with what may be new and unfamiliar. Because I want students to know and experience multiple perspectives and to accept living with some degree of ambiguity, I underscore that many issues have multiple interpretations, solutions, and perspectives that are valid and vital.
Students are guided to give thoughtful and respectful feedback after observing each others’ ideas and inventions. It is critically important to me that both teacher and students use as much descriptive language as possible and veer away from valuative terms such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In this way, students not only expand their vocabulary, they also build self-esteem, transform how they speak to one-another, and learn to assess themselves and their peers in ways that are rigorous yet non-judgmental.
I work with students to document their dances with graphic notation or other mnemonic devices. When appropriate, students work in pairs, trios, or small groups. During the dance making process, I use language that mirrors the writing process, such as brainstorm, plan, draft, confer, edit, and revise.
Reflection is the final beat of each class. This is a moment for students to look back at what they’ve done, share ideas or movements and begin the journey towards owning their own learning.