Teachers' Tools: Tracy Halloran Pearson

Pearson’s combinations help prepare her students to pick up choreography quickly at auditions.

Four years ago, assistant professor Tracy Halloran Pearson returned to her undergraduate alma mater Marygrove College in Detroit to give back to the community that shaped her. “It has been amazing to come back and be a leader there,” she says. In addition to jazz, composition and ballet, she teaches advanced modern three times a week.

“If you have a really strong technical base, then you can break away from it and do really amazing things,” says Pearson. To get her modern class started off on the right foot, she leads students through a series of basic Horton exercises including flat-backs, lateral Ts, leg swings and deep stretches. “Those four exercises wake up the muscles and help re-teach students to use them in a more efficient way,” she says. Pearson has students focus on specific muscle groups, like the outward rotators or pelvic floor muscles, during the Horton series throughout the semester.

“Feel the wrong. Feel the right. Then, let’s talk about the differences,” Pearson instructs her class as they try phrases on their own without music. From the semester’s onset, she engages her class in open discussion to tackle the technical concepts from another angle. Her students learn quickly that they need to speak up. “At the beginning of every semester I say, ‘We’re not moving on until someone talks about this,’” she says. After establishing how the ‘wrong’ feels and how the ‘right’ feels, her students frequently report becoming more capable of executing the movement correctly. “Feeling the movement in your body and then putting it in your brain by talking about it creates understanding on an even higher level,” says Pearson. DT


TEACHING ATTIRE: Christmas socks (“yes, all year”), infinity scarf, dangle earrings and anything Lululemon.




INSPIRATIONAL READ: The Harry Potter series “The story of someone who faces immeasurable odds and achieves great things has always been an inspiration to me.”



DVD TO INSPIRE STUDENTS: Pina. “It’s the perfect example of how limitless the possibilities of dance can be.”



HOBBY OUTSIDE OF DANCE: Crocheting. “It gives me a different way to be creative.”



NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT: Hemp Lip Conditioner from The Body Shop. “Chapped lips are the worst!”




Photo: by Jeff Pearson, courtesy of the photographer; crochet: Thinkstock

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