Workshops and Master Classes

Mariah is available to teach master classes and workshops in technique, improvisation or choreography for any age group or experience-level with dance! Her specialities include Dance & Peacebuilding and Dance & Science. See below for descriptions of these unique offerings, and please feel free to email for more information.

Using Dance in Peacebuilding
Based on a case-study of Irish Modern Dance Theatre’s Fall and Recover – a dance performed by two professional dancers and eleven survivors of torture and asylum seekers to Ireland – this workshop reveals how dance can be used to reach international peacebuilding goals such as developing empathy, trust, tolerance and personal reflection. Through a combination of lecture, discussion and interactive movement activities, workshop participants leave with an understanding of how dance can contribute to healing trauma and to building inclusive communities.
Presented as guest lectures at Emerson College (December 2011), Endicott College (October 2012 and 2013), Boston University (November 2012, 2013 and 2014), Boston Center for the Arts (2012), Brandeis University (March 2013), Project Social Impact (2013 & 2014), Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (2015), and Drew University as part of the Andrew W. Mellon Arts and the Common Good Initiative (2015); at the International Peace Research Association's Conference in Japan (2012); as the Keynote Speaker for North Shore Community Mediation Center's Youth Summit (2014); University of Rochester (2018); Nazareth College (2018); and the American College Dance Association (2019).
"I can't say enough great things about Mariah! The workshop she led for my continuing ed class at Tufts University on dance as a means of peacebuilding and healing for torture survivors was phenomenal. She deftly combined active participation, theoretical concepts and compelling examples in a way that captivated all of us. She was able to get everyone moving by leading the activities so that they felt comfortable and accessible ... even the shyest participants joined in with enthusiasm. Students were still raving about Mariah a week later, and their feedback at the end of the term confirmed that her presentation was one of the most exciting and memorable parts of the course."
—Elke Jahns-Harms, PhD – Instructor of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
"Your presentation was really inspiring, modifying people's mental and physical states by movement. I would have never thought of that in a million years. You have shined the light in areas I never knew. Thank You! The whole presentation was coherent and thoughtful. I especially loved the interaction activity, and how you got us to share our feelings after that experience. Thank you for taking the time to come talk to us. We truly appreciate it."
—Boston University Student
"Thank you for taking the time to come to our class and expose us to such a unique piece of healing. I was in such awe and disbelief of the history that these brave souls went through and their journey to healing. Your presentation was very powerful. I felt that the connections you made through our dancing and then through the actual choreography in the videos made me realize the depth to which these people were hurting. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this incredible experience with us!"
—Boston University Student
"This workshop was very interesting to me because it really showed how powerful dance can be in changing peoples' showed evident proof that dance can be a form of therapy and can be used as a form of healing. In my opinion, this workshop provided me with more fuel to keep doing what I am doing because dance does make an impact in others' lives and it does mean something. A lot of times, I feel like people only look to dance as a form of entertainment and forget that it can be used for so much more. I think that this workshop encouraged me to want to push myself farther with dance from both a choreographic perspective as well as a dancer perspective. As graduation approaches, I am not sure what is in store for my career that involves dance, but I know that I am always going to need it. I have always had the drive to constantly want to help others and if I can do that through dance then maybe that can be something I look into for my future past Drew."
—Drew University Student, October 2015
Frameworks for Combining Dance & Science in the Creative Classroom
As STEM evolves into STEAM and combining dance and science grows into a trend, a central question reveals itself: how can we treat both fields as equally valid, and ensure students gain core competencies in each domain, rather than allowing one field’s way of knowing to dominate? To address this ongoing question, I have developed several frameworks that aid the creative processes of both teachers and choreographers when combining dance and science. This workshop will consider the strengths and limitations of four ways that science information can be translated into choreography or classroom instruction: Modeling, Inspiration, Essencing and Brainstorming. Within the STEM classroom framework, we will also consider the pedagogical differences – in terms of outcomes and types of skills developed – of three possible lesson structures: introducing scientific material inductively through movement activities first; deductively by communicating scientific information and then translating it into movement; or an integrated approach, moving back and forth between science and dance. We will also explore how dance can help build skills for scientific inquiry and how scientific topics can help expand students’ creative process. Workshop participants will experience the different pedagogical models and will leave with two straight-forward frameworks to help in planning lessons that will reach multiple learning styles and all levels of comfort with science, while still being true to both the dance and STEM content. The frameworks will also provide choreographers exploring scientific themes with new tools for reflecting on the communicative power of their work.

These frameworks have been developed through several interdisciplinary collaborations, namely a course I co-taught with two oceanographers at MIT, and a multi-year project collaborating with researchers at TERC, a STEM education research institution, funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of the latter project was to research whether and how an embodied approach to Physics might help black and Latino high school students – groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields – gain identities as scientists.

First presented at the National Dance Education Organization Conference (2019).
Choreography Workshop
Have you ever wanted to learn to communicate an idea without words? To make a piece of art using just your body moving through space? If yes, this choreography class is for you! We will explore a variety of choreographic tools for generating movement material, and then expand to looking at different ways to structure the material into meaningful compositions. The first half of each class will be dedicated to improvised explorations of weight, space, texture, and dynamics, followed by presentations and constructive feedback of students' work on take-home choreographic assignments. No experience required, and all forms of dance are welcome. Only requirement is a willingness to move and create!
First conducted for MIT students as an eight session class during Independent Activities Period, January 2012
Master Classes in Modern Dance: Technique, Improvisation, Partnering or Performance
Experience Mariah's unique style of movement or hone your understanding of "classic" modern dance with a workshop in May O'Donnell technique! (May O'Donnell was one of Martha Graham's lead dancers and went on to develop her own stylized warm-up that preserves the technical aspects of Graham's exercises while being friendlier on the body.) Specialty classes focusing on improvisation, partnering and performance can be combined with technique or offered separately.
Mariah has taught master classes internationally in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Ghana, as well as closer to home in studios throughout New York and Massachusetts, including UMass Amherst in September 2012.

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Last Modified: 11 Oct 2020
Designed By: Will Pickeral
Photos By: Eli Akerstein