From Vancouver, Canada, Paula Bridget Johnson is an artist and dance educator. She is a graduate from Jacksonville University's, Master of Fine Arts in Choreography program. Her research interests lie in connecting artists from around the world through art and fitness for dance training.
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Photo by Cara Tench
Artist Statement

Why do I dance? I dance because it makes me happy. It makes me a better human, mother, wife, and teacher. I cannot imagine living a life without movement and creation weaved into each day.

As an educator, I aspire to share with my students that every BODY can dance and that dance can be any movement. As I grow older, I hope they see and understand, that they can continue to follow their passions throughout their lives and that this is what makes life meaningful and fun.

Currently, I have been working on dances with my classes that use movement to explain academic topics from their coursework. For example, we are using movement to show angles, chemical reactions, parts of a sentence, and electrical currents. To add another layer to these movement explorations based on big ideas, we are also exploring past choreographers to learn more about the history of dance and how it evolved. For their performance, the students and I are exploring interactive projections. I think, what the students are getting most out of these projects, is that dance can be seen as connected to everything.

Can we connect the world through art? For my own movement explorations, I am interested in connecting artists from around the world through a shared artistic research task. I have created one research project performance called: Connecting, Projecting, and Collecting: A Choreographic Exploration using Facebook and I have participated in Seven to the Seventh, created by Ana Sanchez-Colberg and Theatre enCorps. Both of these projects have used technology to connect dancers and artists from around the world. I look forward to pursuing more research in this area. Let’s connect the world through art.
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Photo by Cara Tench
Philosophy of Teaching
From my last sixteen years of teaching I understand the vision of where we are going as we move away from teacher driven to student led education. I have also worked outside of Canada in England, Indonesia, and Mexico, giving me different cultural perspectives on teaching and learning. All of my teaching experiences has lead me to the following philosophy:

First and foremost, never stop learning. Do what you love and never stop doing it. If you stop loving what you do, take a break and do it another way, in another place, or with another person. Change the song, keep the steps. Change the steps, keep the song. Each person is different and has something amazing to offer. Listen. Open your eyes. Be kind. Smile.

As a teacher of Dance, Choreography, and English, I strive to create a safe learning environment geared towards open exploration. An open, explorative environment can most easily be achieved through team building activities chosen based on the groups specific dynamics. Taking the time to foster positive attitudes and building a learning family where each member cares about and supports each other’s learning. Attention should be given to each individual in order to understand how each student learns and to devise the optimum tasks which lead to a positive and effective creative learning experience. What might work for one learner, or even one class, might fail to succeed in another. By simply, talking with students about themselves and their interests it is possible to modify activities to suit their individual preferences or learning needs.

More and more, students are encouraged to follow their own interests in order to make learning meaningful to their own learning pathway. Here in British Columbia, our new curriculum focuses on these core competencies: Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social. My classes and I have been working through activities that foster these along with the Fine Arts curricular competencies: Explore and Create, Communicate and Document, Connect and Expand, and Reason and Reflect. Bringing awareness to these Big Ideas in our class activities has created a more collaborative atmosphere between teachers and students. Even to the extent that I feel more connected with other teachers in my school as we work together on using movement to explore academic coursework. As we have just started working with this new curriculum, I see the future of education becoming more and more cross-curricular. Students are taking more initiative as they forge their own pathways of learning, while the teachers collaborate and support them on their journeys. It is an exciting time to be part of the education system.