First year jazz teacher chassés her way into the dance department

Intermediate and Advanced Jazz dance teacher Elena Kerr enters the school’s performing arts community, expressing her eagerness to progress with her new students and share her longtime experience and love for various types of dance.

This is Ms. Kerr’s first year in MCPS and she expresses her enthusiasm to be a part of the staff and work with new students. For her first year, she is making an effort to understand her students and plan accordingly, emotionally and dance-wise. “I hope to continue to grow as an educator, and I hope my students are able to grow as dancers and human beings,” Ms.Kerr says.

Dancing in studios since she was two, Ms. Kerr went on to study Dance and Justice Studies at Arizona State University. She trained in different styles like modern, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and Irish step. Of these, Ms. Kerr’s favorite style of dance is modern.“I just love being able to feel freedom in my movement. Nothing you do in modern dance is wrong,” she says. “It can be whatever you want it to be and I love that about modern dance.

Ms. Kerr also teaches Dance as a Fine Art, an introductory dance class, and Junior Dance Company at Albert Einstein High School. “Teaching is different depending on each class,” she says. When teaching beginner classes, Ms. Kerr focuses on basic dance techniques and styles, contrasting with her advanced classes, where she helps students find their own performance styles.

Although Ms. Kerr deals with the challenges of teaching in two different schools’ departments, she feels encouraged by staff and mostly by her students. “I believe that dance can really help people develop critical thinking, creative problem solving, and collaboration skills,” she adds, “all while helping people find a passion and their individual voice through movement.”

Despite her long dance experience, Ms. Kerr expresses how she didn’t always want to be a dance teacher. It was not until her experience with Movement Exchange, a program which connects dancers from universities to underserved dance classes, that she got the chance to teach youth in Panama and find her calling. “I realized how fortunate I was to grow up with dance in my high school, and I knew I wanted to give that chance to students,” Ms. Kerr says.

Ms.Kerr expresses her anticipation for teaching choreography and seeing self-expression in her students. “Watching students find their voice through movement and be curious about what new possibilities exist in dance and life,” she adds. “No one dances in the same way, and that is the beauty of dance.”