Jubilation Fellow Darryl Thomas with dancer

Darryl Thomas

Monmouth OR
Fellowship: 2020

“My teaching philosophy is grounded in my desire to share with students the absolute delight of moving our bodies in rhythm to music.”

Through 20+ years of performances with Rainbow Dance Theatre, workshops in public schools, and a nine-year partnership with the Inspiration Dance program, Darryl has brought the joy of dance to over 250,000 youth. Prior to his work with RDT, Darryl toured the world as dancer and artistic collaborator with Pilobolus Dance Theatre.

What led you to be a teaching artist?
My mother was a school teacher with a traditional approach to education. Watching her teach fourth graders, it was clear that she saw the process of learning as hard work, one that required a type of discipline that removed the innate joy of learning. I felt a deep sadness for her students—learning should not be this onerous.

As an artist, I am fortunate to do what I love—dance—and I want to share the joy of that artform. Yet equally important is to share the joy of learning the artform. Kids—humans—need to move. To move is to be alive.

I come to the classroom with a mission to bring the joy of movement, the joy of kinesthetic learning through the body. My focus is on providing a process that makes learning fun and engaging by honoring the total body—not just the intellect—as a vehicle for experiencing and expressing the wonders of life through movement.

Describe your teaching philosophy:
I intentionally cultivate a caring, participatory, and equitable environment. Students are encouraged to talk and interact positively while making decisions and solving problems collectively. I use discussion circles to help students learn by listening to their peers, contribute to discussions, and develop empathy for themselves as well as others.

We say: “Let me try a different way.” Instead of…”I give up.” “Learning takes time.” Instead of…”This is too hard.” “Mistakes are part of learning.” Instead of… “I failed.” Students assume leadership for learning, feel comfortable exploring differences of opinion, and accept that they may need help from their classmates in order to be successful.

Yet, teaching is a learning experience and as I continue to refine my skills, I make new discoveries, such as how the joy of moving the human body can serve as a bridge for student engagement in other subjects. In the iTronDance & Coding workshop, students code LEDs on their costumes to change colors.

Learning can be fun: students can take that elsewhere. How can life can be fun while I’m figuring it out, not after I figure it out.

%d bloggers like this: