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Students are at their most brilliant when engaged by their own curiousity...

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Teaching Philosophy

 I find students at their most brilliant when they are engaged by their own curiosity.  In that space they are connection makers and truth finders.  Once they are in this space, the technical and anatomical work that we do next becomes accessible and personal to them. Teaching for me is not about a transmission of knowledge, but a guiding of one unique person towards key realizations.  The realization the we are conscious beings if we choose to be. That we are complete as we are. That artmaking is an avenue towards being able to express that completeness.

My work with public school students is some of the most incredibly rewarding work I do. What is unique to the public school student is the innate connection to the broader world that is created from taking dance while studying other subjects in school. 

When teaching, the approach to learning is as important as the subject matter, if not more. The states that are created, through both the classroom environment and its focused activity allow students to connect to a place inside them that allows for learning and lasting synthesis of information to take place. I am lucky to teach many of my students over the course of many years.  With them I take an approach that builds naturally on their strengths, speaks to their interests, and allows them to work, from superficial to deep, through what I call the “circles of knowing.”  First, understanding the space around them and the shapes and trajectories that they fit their body into. Then, working with breath to access energetic effort in order to be able to then dive deeply into honest intention and a nuanced awareness of effort in movement. 

I am a constructivist at heart and believe that classrooms are made effective through collaboration, community and context.  Professor George E. Hein sums up well these three concepts in notes from his presentation on the trademarks of a constructivist learning environment:



Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it. The more traditional formulation of this idea involves the terminology of the active learner (Dewey's term) stressing that the learner needs to do something; that learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge which exists "out there" but that learning involves the learner s engaging with the world.  (Hein, p 3)



Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings, our teachers, our peers, our family as well as casual acquaintances, including the people before us or next to us at the exhibit. We are more likely to be successful in our efforts to educate if we recognize this principle rather than try to avoid it. Much of traditional education, as Dewey pointed out, is directed towards isolating the learner from all social interaction, and towards seeing education as a one-on one relationship between the learner and the objective material to be learned. In contrast, progressive education (to continue to use Dewey's formulation) recognizes the social aspect of learning and uses conversation, interaction with others, and the application of knowledge as an integral aspect of learning. (Hein,3)



Motivation is a key component in learning. Not only is it the case that motivation helps learning, it is essential for learning. This idea of motivation as described here is broadly conceived to include an understanding of ways in which the knowledge can be used. Unless we know "the reasons why", we may not be very involved in using the knowledge that may be instilled in us. even by the most severe and direct teaching.  (Hein, p.4)[1]


When a student is invited to be an active participant and guiding force in their education, they glean the agency necessary for change.  When they are able to enter into this process with dialogue and input from classmates who are on the same journey, they have true community support in that endeavor.  When this learning is connected directly to an increase in professional competency and given real world application, then the contextual connection has been forged and a student will take the initiative to master that area of study willingly.

[1] Hein, Prof. G. (October 15-22, 1991) Constructivist Learning Theory: The Museum and the Needs of People CECA (Conference Presentation).International Committee of Museum Educators Conference, Jerusalem, Israel.










High School

Essential question(s): What is our relationship to our body? What is the quality of the conversation between our mind and body on a daily basis? And how can yoga help to deepen that conversation?


(Objective) Students will be able to: Warm up, stretch, and strengthen their bodies, leading towards dynamic balancing postures.

(Learning Activities) By:
Learning exercises incorporating the following:
One Legged Bird Dog with Hip Circles

Down Dogs with Hip Circles

Sun Salutation

Warrior Flow

Ardha Chandrasana

Warrior III

Supine Hip Openers



Teacher observation and questions for student understanding.
Performance Rubric Assessment



Offer physical modifications using blocks and straps for students experiencing anatomical pain and offer multiple "steps" for all poses that require varying levels of expertise.


SEL.PK-12.2.1 [Sub-Competency] - Understand and practice strategies for managing one’s own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors

SEL.PK-12.1.2 [Sub-Competency] - Recognize the impact of one’s feelings and thoughts on one’s own behavior

DA.9- [Performance Expectation] - Evaluate and apply healthful strategies (e.g., nutrition, injury prevention, emotional health, overall functioning) and safe body-use practices that are essential for the dancer

Lesson Plan:
High School Dance

Essential question(s): How does understanding the science surrounding our brains affect our experiences? How do we translate this to an audience?


(Objective) Students will be able to analyze and interpret data and articles regarding the brain and help in the creation of work for our Spring Concert


(Learning Activities) By:

Shoulder Rolling Twisting Plie Combination

Standing One Legged Tap Downs

Video on the Cerebellum

Group Conversation Regarding Video Content

Cerebellum "Ear Tugging" Balancing Exercise

Weight Sharing Partnering Exercise for Content Generation

Continuation of Choreography for Spring Concert


Teacher observation and questions for student understanding.

group conversation
Personal Analysis Rubric Assessment



Offer levels in movement difficulty for students of varying abilities during warm up.





d. Develop a personal conditioning practices, using different body conditioning techniques, that improves range of motion, muscular flexibility, strength, and endurance to enhance performance.



a. Explore a variety of stimuli (e.g., music, sound, literary forms, notation, natural phenomena, experiences, current news, social events) for sourcing movement to develop an improvisational or choreographed dance study. Analyze the process and the relationship between the stimuli and the movement.

Lesson Plan: Middle School Dance

Essential question(s):  What do we need to understand about the theater in order to adjust our runs of the piece so that we have a successful show?

(Objective): Students will be able to recall and embody proper theater etiquette and entering and exiting procedures while demonstrating full performance  quality of choreography for the district dance concert.


Learning Activities By:

Stage Procedures for Entering and Exiting Stage and bows

Group Strategize rehearsal schedule (areas of concern for cleaning)

Clean Dance using notes from last rehearsal to clarify places of importance

"Full Run through with entering, exiting and bow



Teacher observation and questions for student understanding.
Performance Rubric Assessment



Offer levels in movement difficulty for students of varying abilities and progress phrase up through increasing tempos as class comprehension permits.


DA.6- [Performance Expectation] - Perform planned and improvised movement sequences and dance combinations applying dynamic phrasing, energy, emotional intent, and characterization.

DA.6- [Performance Expectation] - Revise choreography collaboratively or independently based on artistic criteria, self-reflection and the feedback of others. Explain movement choices and revisions and how they impact the artistic intent

DA.6- [Performance Expectation] - Examine artistic criteria to determine what makes an effective performance. Consider content, context, genre, style, and /or cultural movement practice to comprehend artistic expression. Use genre-specific dance terminology

Hello Midtown Dance,


I am excited to be bringing Dance to the Midtown Winter Concert for the very first time on December 13th!


As we get closer to the performance, please read the details of the performance (where, when, how etc.).  Keep reading below so that you are in the know!


Dress for Performers is: Sneakers (dress shoes too slippery for dancing on stage), black pants, festive holiday tops in your holiday color/s, dress to impress! If students have long hair, they are encouraged to wear it off their face in some way so that we can see their faces while they dance.


For the DAYTIME shows, students will be in their regular uniforms.


Below are the times and dates for all of our rehearsals next week.  I am still getting the details of exactly what time “Afternoon Periods Rehearsal” will be at, but we will be sure to let you know once we do.


Note: the time that dancers show up is 1 hour earlier than the show.  In the theater, this is called the “Call Time”.  The call time is used to allow dancers to prepare for a show and work through any last-minute issues that may arise.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at


I look forward to seeing you soon.


Ms. Ritchie



Show Week Schedule:


Monday 12/11:

Afternoon Periods: Rehearsal for all Midtown Dancers


Tuesday 12/12:

Afternoon Periods: Run of the Show with all Dancers, Choir and Band Members


Wednesday 12/13:

 During the School Day:

        Morning Show for Lower Grades (Time to be determined)

         Afternoon Show for Upper Grades (Time to be determined)


After School:

         Call Time for Dancers at the School: 5:00pm

         Show: 6:00pm

        (Evening Show for Adults and accompanied Students)

         Tickets at the door: $3 for adults, all kids Free






Blair Ritchie, MFA, E-RYT500"For all that has been, Thank you.

For all that will be....YES."

-Dag Hammarskjold

Winter Concert
Letter to Parents



Spring Concert
Letter to Parents


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Email Correspondence with Parent


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