Core Values

On Tuesday, the faculty and students in the Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts discussed the core values listed below. I find these nine keywords to be a clarifying reminders when lost as an artist within academia.

Of course these are words on the screen, to actualize them Professor Michele Miller had students come up with "We will..." statements; action plans generated during the discussion to make these abstract words come alive. Here's an example of an action statements that a group of students wrote:
We will practice the idea of respect by taking care of our bodies in dance and in health, practicing courtesy to our teachers, musicians, fellow students, and dancers, while also self-encouraging ourselves to take on the challenge of technique.
Here are keywords and thoughts generated by the dance faculty:

Strive for excellence. Challenge yourself to develop to your fullest potential in every aspect of your work: physically, intellectually, emotionally, imaginatively, and artistically. Take the risks necessary for growth, embracing failures as an essential path to success. Invest your whole self in your work for the reward of knowing you have done your best. Commit to a process of change. Support extraordinary efforts, your own and others.

Explore your body, cultivating awareness. Explore all possible connections to the world and embrace the breadth and variety available to you in dance. Learn about dance through live performance, film, videos, books, electronic media, and other resources. Explore your potential as a generative artist as well as an interpretive one, reaching beyond your discipline to embrace collaboration, interdisciplinarity and multicultural perspectives.

Inquiry and Reflection
Be curious. Seek out the widest range of educational resources that are available to you within this college and the world at large. Question deeply your relationship to your art form and your own artistic purpose. Take time to reflect about what you have learned in order to integrate what you learn into your work as an artist. Synthesize information from multiple sources.

Seek and welcome feedback. Be willing to evaluate your own work unsparingly. Develop the ability to generously, constructively, and specifically critique the work of your fellow artists, and connect your critique of others to your own ongoing development.

Assume responsibility for your learning and progress by providing your own discipline and motivation. Take advantage of all learning opportunities, within the college and in the outside community. Develop a diligent and consistent approach to your education. Take responsibility to care for your self: body, mind and soul. Embody: physically manifest your knowledge and intentions.

Trust your faculty and their knowledge. Trust your body and its wisdom, your process of growth and change. Trust your ability to succeed. Trust your peers and their creative energy. Dare to be authentic, dancing truthfully from who you are.

Learn and practice respect for yourself, your peers, your instructors, your dance musicians, all Cornish staff, your artistic community. Respect your art form, the process of creation, the space in which you do your work, the audience who receives your work, the history of dance, its traditions and legacy. Respect your body, developing a healthy approach to your art form. Respect cultural diversity, learning from those whose experiences differ from yours.

Be humble. Practice empathy, patience and compassion. Recognize that in dance we commit to being lifelong learners, always students of our art form. Be of service to the work and people involved in the work.

Remember why you are here. Celebrate your love of dance and the joy that it brings you. Share that joy with others and support them in their passions. Draw inspiration from others’ growth and challenges.

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Students were given the keywords and grouped into discussion teams of five or six where they focused on one or two keywords for 20 minutes. They then presented their thoughts to the larger group. I was surprised by how many of their ideas resonated with the faculty's.

Kitty, the chair of the department, commented at the end that the keywords and their personalized meanings reminded her that Cornish was a place for practicing artists. Alex, a junior in the department, said that it was a great way to kick-off the start of the school year.