Rozann Kraus on Mentoring

My fellow mentor on the 2011 Winter Emerging Artist Program at Green Street Studios was Rozann Kraus. In addition to working as published author and poet, Rozann is the founder and President of the Dance Complex where she created the landmark Shared Choreographers Concert series. She has served on the faculties of the Yale School of Drama, New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University. Winner of an Artists Foundation Choreography Fellowship, a Choreography Fellowship from the State of Ohio, the Paul Robeson Award and Arts Lottery Grants from five cities, her work has been commissioned by a wide range of sponsors, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, The Yale Art Gallery, Composers in Red Sneakers and (for nine consecutive years) Boston's First Night. Touring throughout the country as teacher, choreographer and performer, Ms. Kraus has been a guest choreographer at MIT, the Cambridge School and Tufts University and was an Artist in Residence at Clark University's Center for Contemporary Performance and many other institutions. As mentors, Rozann and I really clicked in ways I was not expecting and I was curious to hear her philosophy on the process.

by Rozann Kraus

I think of mentoring like tending a seedling.  The roots are there and the core is emerging. What's needed is the right amount of water, nutrients and sunshine. Too much or too little, the right or wrong timing can be painful and harmful; understanding the nature and having the experience to modulate the support is crucial to a viable outcome.  With dance, where the medium is the message, gentle teaching is needed because the seedling is the artist's ego.

Mentoring is a deeper partnership than the one that comes from teaching because, at its best, it is sensitive to and responsive to the unique needs of someone. As a mentor, the challenge is to be able to offer insights from your own gleanings, without smothering the others' vision or confidence.

I began the Shared Choreographers' Concert series to provide choreographers  crucial feedback and support that only exists in a conservatory setting. But dancers, too, gain insight into their roles by being privy to the discourse and getting additional information about their choreographer's motivations and goals.

Applications are now being accepted for the next Shared Choreographers' Concert which will occur on October 21 & 22 and will be part of the Dance Complex's 20th Anniversary Celebration

1 comment:

Arthur FInk said...

I'd amplify or extend Rozann Kraus's words, "Mentoring is a deeper partnership than the one that comes from teaching because, at its best, it is sensitive to and responsive to the unique needs of someone."

You won't become my mentor just because of your sensitivity to my needs, and my ability to receive.

It will happen because I open myself to your wisdom, trusting that it will be important to me. You may start out as my teacher or would-be mentor, but my deep acceptance is critical in the process.

With that acceptance, what you say has much more significance. Even if my first reaction is to reject it (not what I hope, but of course it does happen), the mentor relationship should lead me to carry it more deeply.

At best it's a beautiful relationship, powerful, constrained in very clear ways, and productive in leading to much finer work.


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