Erica Rosenberg made her way from Broadway into the classroom. Read on to learn about her pathway into dance education!
1. What is your current position in dance education and how did it come to be? Please describe your role.
Since 1998, I’ve been teaching dance to very young children at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School. Humor and playfulness are the key ingredients with the little ones. They are just experiencing how to be in school and how to learn and play together. Three, four and five year olds are wonderfully open and responsive to dance. In 2000, I began teaching at Trinity School, integrating dance with the social studies curriculum for second and third grade. My role there is to facilitate storytelling through dance making for second grade, and bring dances from other cultures to the third grade children. For the past several years, I have also worked with Trinity high school students, choreographing musical theater projects. Both positions came to me from DEL people! Ann Biddle originated the second grade project, and I was lucky to step in when she moved on to other positions.
2. Please describe your PATHWAY to that job in a short narrative starting with your earliest dance experiences.
I grew up in Seattle, Washington and moved with my family to Portland, Oregon in my early teens. I had wonderful ballet training, though I started dancing rather late. Dance was like a lightbulb for me – it literally woke me out of a rather sleepy childhood. At Portland State University, where I earned my undergraduate degree, I discovered modern and jazz dance. After moving to NYC, I began working in Musical Theater productions – it was a slow process that took a great deal of grit, but I was lucky to get all three union cards. I worked in some amazing regional theaters, Off and On Broadway, and did some television and film. It was a wild ride. After getting married and having a son, I began to be interested in teaching dance. Watching my son grow and learn was inspiration to me and I wanted to connect my love of dance with the wonder of that growth and learning. I had no idea how to do that. That’s when DEL came into the picture.
3. What is the most helpful lesson you learned at DEL? In your years teaching?
The DEL model along with Laban Movement Analysis gave me the framework to begin to think about how to deliver the dance experience to children. After each class my mind was buzzing with new ideas. I experienced gorgeous guided explorations delivered by Jody Arnhold and Ann Biddle, learned to integrate dance with mathematics, language arts and social studies, learned about childhood development, and observed my classmate’s amazing projects. It was mind blowing in the most wonderful way. I’ve always loved the integration of art forms, which is why I loved musical theater – dancing, singing and acting. This was yet another way to integrate dance, this time with all aspects of education. I found that tremendously exciting!
4. What is one thing you would tell young dancers about the importance of dance education? Or what do you wish you had known as a young dancer?
The most important thing that I learned at DEL is the idea of ownership – that my job as a dance educator is to empower children with dance. If the children can drive the experience, they will find their own strength, they will build a creative community, they will begin to look outside of themselves and support and appreciate each other – and then support and appreciate dance as they grow into adults. That’s is exactly what I would tell a young dancer about the importance and the power of dance education.