St. Paul MN
“Teaching is the most selfish thing I do. I often think that I am getting more than I am giving.”
Ellen believes that dance training should be accessible to everyone. As the founder of Keane Sense of Rhythm Tap Company, she teaches with the goal of using dance as physical and mental health for adults, kids, and underprivileged youth. KSR works to build community, and bridge communities, from the street to the rooftop, from outdoor venues to professional theaters around the world.
What led you to become a teaching artist?
I grew up in a home that valued dance as a form of expression; both my parents loved to dance, and I taught on and off from age 16. My creative efforts shifted pretty quickly from creating dances to creating dancers. After college I began studying early childhood development. Ten years later I inherited a studio, then I developed curricula. In 1997, I started the tap company, and in 2002 we initiated the Youth Tap Ensemble and the beginnings of our outreach programs.
The process is more important than the product, and the product is also part of the process.
It is vital to learn kinetically, to become aware of your body in space, to feel weight and moments of weightlessness. Building trust is necessary for active learning, and building confidence is a goal of mine. Rhythm tap is my tool, but what I am really doing is providing the opportunity for students to take risks, learn to listen to themselves and others, and find positive ways of expression.
I also teach acceptance: acceptance of what I am able to do today even though I want to be better; and acceptance of others, both who they are and how they learn.