The focus of David Appel’s teaching is to encourage in each student a sensitive, full, clear, and expressive use of the body and mind in movement, while they simultaneously develop their ability to move comfortably and decisively with others. Articulation, balance, weight flow, the use of breath, and direction of energy through space can figure prominently as elements or lines of exploration. He often employs a problem-solving approach that entails the use of a variety of dance structures within a process-oriented environment, as he finds that this can lead to a firmer grasp of technical skills, a more defined compositional sense, and a greater understanding of the uses of improvisation.
At times, David sends students (metaphorically speaking) to look into specific windows or walk through certain doors; at others he simply indicates a direction in which they can ramble. Meaning that he often veers intentionally between precision and ambiguity in his teaching, providing more or less guidance, because he places a particular importance on each person developing the wherewithal to uncover and experience what lies within one moment and the next. He also encourages them to remember (as they continue to learn, and discover the specific directions in which they’ll be moving) that there is a well of choices at their disposal, from which they can draw with clarity, responsibility, subtlety, care, and delight. The outgrowth of this approach is a deeper awareness of both the craft and the art of dance, and a fuller embodiment of the connection between internal sources and our moment-to-moment presence “in the world.”
David enjoys immensely that dance is a living, breathing, evolving medium that can take many forms. So he addresses issues that speak to the essence of dancing, in ways that have proved beneficial to people working within diverse styles and techniques. And though what he presents is often geared particularly toward students in dance and movement studies, his teaching has also provided valuable insight to those involved in theater, music, the visual arts, and a wide range of other disciplines—as well as anyone else who simply loves to move.
Over the course of his career, he has taught extensively in dance studios, art and community centers, universities, schools, summer institutes, a labor union program, and for numerous other organizations.
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