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Foreign Fulbright

Dance to Love

October 15, 2015
Minh Tuyet Bui

Minh Tuyet Bui, 2013-2015, Vietnam (center), performs her dance “Dreamer’s Café” with Heidi Stonier and Bryan Wilson at the Center for Modern Dance Education, New Jersey.

My dance/movement journey started in 2010 when I read the book Dance as a Healing Art by Anna Halprin. To this day, I am grateful for her spirit and wisdom. It empowered me to cross the ocean on a Fulbright grant to become a Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) student in the United States at Sarah Lawrence College.

After 10 years of experience in education, I have observed that the teaching methods currently in use in Vietnam cause students to suffer. Students are rarely encouraged to observe, ask questions or think critically in order to make their own decisions. In an ideal environment, students must learn inner leadership, personal responsibility, and self-discovery. They should add value to the world by playing a part in it. In this respect, traditional education is failing.

By experiencing my own body through movement and applying this experience in teaching, I see how creative movement empowers students to develop personality and strengthen their inner leadership. In one of my classes, “Movement with Nature,” I guided children to make physical contact and engage all the senses with a tree. Students pay attention to feelings, emotions and images stimulated by their contact with the tree, then are asked to dance with the tree and find their relationship to it. The tree is in you and you are in the tree. After that, they draw the tree and write about their experience. Children identify with nature by projecting themselves into the form of a tree through movement. From this process, they can obtain rich insights and meaningful connections to their life needs. One shy girl shared, “My tree is scared to sleep alone.” Another said, “My tree doesn’t like being hit.” Another child saw the trees as endless, a home that offered strength and safety. “I am here if you need help” her tree said.

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Foreign Fulbright

Bridging the Atlantic through Traditional East African Dance and Music

April 4, 2013

Alfdaniels Mabingo, 2011-2013, Uganda (center, on the big drum), performing with fellow NYU Steinhardt Dance Education students during the annual Distinguished Faculty Concert (photo courtesy of Cris Dopher)

My journey to New York University (NYU) to pursue graduate training in dance education started when I was still young. My artistic creativity, performance dexterity and exposure to dance artistry were nurtured and molded by the day-to-day, informal community-based dance experiences of my childhood. My mother would always sing me lullabies; my young peers always challenged me to create and share music and dance moves. These experiences came with me as I left my home country, Uganda, to attend NYU as a Fulbright Student.

When I arrived at NYU, I realized how different my new environment felt: accents, social interaction and studying styles, classroom dynamics, grades, pedagogy, music and dance traditions, food, modes of transportation – were all alien to me. I experienced what I would call “welcome to New York City” shock. My challenge was how to build on my cultural history, academic acumen, and ambitions to fit into this new environment. Dance and music helped me to become comfortably oriented in this unfamiliar setting.

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