In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • The Courage to Teach and the Courage to Lead:Considerations for Theatre and Dance in Higher Education
  • Ray Miller (bio)

For many of us, there is a sense that as we move from one day to the next we are not so much accomplishing something as surviving something. Digital media of all kinds and the ready accessibility of the internet, smart phones, virtual clouds, and other digital technologies have pushed the future into the present. The future is often experienced as a plethora of possibilities that coexist all at the same time. We do not have the time to think forward. It is too much already to negotiate the present from one moment to the next. Douglas Rushkoff calls this “present shock” and claims that “[i]f the end of the twentieth can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first century can be defined by presentism” (3).1 In this new world, jumping from one web link to the next is not viewed as disruptive and superficial, but as a way to surf the possibilities and to make unexpected discoveries.2 David Shields captures the feel of the worldview that informs the lives of many of our students with an unnerving poignancy in his book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. This reality, which many of our students live in and many of our under-30 entrepreneurs and colleagues inhabit, is described by Shields as a world of

[r]andomness, openness to accident and serendipity, spontaneity; artistic risk, emotional urgency and intensity, reader/viewer participation … plasticity of form, pointillism; criticism as autobiography; self-reflexivity, self-ethnography, anthropological autobiography; a blurring … of any distinction between fiction and nonfiction: the lure and blur of the real.


When we view the effects of technology from this perspective, we can see that the ways in which we have understood ourselves as “performing beings” in dance studies and theatre arts has become the “lived experience” for many of our students and their peers. Our students now often prefer engaging creatively with YouTube and a plethora of different kinds of gaming to the passivity of watching the televising of human experience. Being their own creative agents is often viewed as their right. Many might even suggest that in today’s world, it is a necessity.3 They live in a world that does not define itself by lifelong commitments to jobs, institutions, or careers. The disruptions in the global economy, combined with the fast pace of technological innovations, shift the focus from “what do you want to do?” to “how do you want to be?” This forces the student to reject the “student-as-consumer” approach to education and seek to become what Ken Bain describes as “deep learners, adaptive experts, great problem solvers, and highly creative and compassionate individuals” (10).

In the scholarly literature on signature pedagogical practice the fundamental questions that animate scholars are the ways that each discipline fosters deep learning and helps students think like disciplinary experts.4 What is shifting now, however, is that the rate and kind of change we are experiencing is creating a seismic upheaval in the academy not only within our fields of study, but also in how we study, how we learn, and how we privilege varied ways of knowing and understanding. Students understand that they are living in a world of interconnectedness. Contact improvisation and devised theatre, for example, are not seen by our students as special subfields within dance and theatre practice, but as essential and necessary strategies to create and engage in authentic and [End Page E-1] meaningful ways with the world on and off the stage and in and out of various media. Many strive to seek out ways in which their love for the moving human body, for example, can be connected with technology, not simply recorded by technology. They are not as afraid of what technology can bring to the human experience. While they are always eager to discover and experiment with various technologies related to choreography, playwriting, directing, scenography, and the concert stage, they are also eager to explore how technology of all sorts can insinuate itself into the body politic, as well as in acts of social justice...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. E-1-E-7
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.