Focus on Instruction: Peggy Choy

Focus on Instruction is a series of interviews with instructors from across the School about their teaching. Here we learn from Peggy Choy, Associate Professor of Dance and Asian American Studies.

Associate Professor Peggy Choy

If you’re interested in sharing your experiences as an instructor, please reach out to Anna Lewis.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?

It’s hard to choose because I like teaching each class for its unique focus. For example, I enjoy teaching Asian American Movement because the focus is on creating dance in reference to the rich and diverse Asian American immigration history, as well as exposing students to Asian American poetry and music. I love teaching Afro Asian Improv: From Hip Hop to Martial Arts Fusion because of the synergistic juxtaposition of Asian martial arts and Hip Hop dance (namely Breaking) in the context of a global Afro Asian legacy.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I appreciate engagement with this generation of students. I’m seeing some bright stars who show potential to lead the way to a more just and environmentally sound society, nationally and internationally. I’m inspired when I see their courageous embodiment of their LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC identities.

Do you have a favorite teaching/learning moment?

This is more about a semester’s process. I had the opportunity to teach a brilliant student who was overwhelmed with anxiety. Through steady guidance, we came to moments of shared laughter that helped to break down the monolithic institutional pressure (not excluding race and gender challenges). These delightful moments helped bring a sense of perspective to her daily struggles. Through dance and remembering her family legacy of dance she had learned as a child, she also found self-empowerment to succeed.
Associate Professor Peggy Choy

What is your favorite way of getting students excited/invested/involved in the content?

I like to surprise my students with something challenging—a movement, a concept–that is outside of their comfort zones. I bring humor as well as meditative skills to the learning process. These seemingly contradictory notions are actually similar in that students are nudged to step away from their anxieties and self-consciousness.

What did you learn about teaching during the pandemic?

I am learning that building a dance curriculum online, in isolation without face-to-face contact is daunting. I’ve had to turn inward to answer questions, such as what better ways can I make contact, inspire my students to understand the intimacy of body, heart, mind, and the environment? This fall, with face-to-face contact with students, I am continuing to ask hard questions, and am reaping some of the benefits now.

How do you hope to grow as an instructor?

I hope to always grow in my ability to connect with my students, to honor their intelligence(s), to make a difference as they live their lives now, and to prepare their lives for after graduation. I hope to show them gifts of sustainability and some tools to break through crippling racism, sexism, and many BIPOC stereotypes.